Alf Sharp Furniture Maker | Tennessee Crossroads

Alf Sharp Furniture Maker | Tennessee Crossroads


Styles come and go, but quality, well it never goes
out of fashion. Alf Sharp knows a thing
or two about that. You see for decades,
he’s designed and built furniture of changing styles
but consistent quality. Rob Wilds paid a visit to Alf
at his work shop in Woodbury. – We’re out in the woods
appropriately outside the town of Woodbury and the place
we’re looking for is a little hard to
find but that’s okay. Cause for decades people
who are interested in high quality, hand
made wooden furniture have had no trouble
finding this place. This is Alf Sharps shop. And Alf Sharp knows a thing
or two about furniture and wood. (power tools buzzing) – I had started out in
law school at Vanderbilt and woke up in a cold
sweat one morning and realized that was that
last thing in the world I really wanted to do,
and so, and so I just sort of bummed around
for a couple of years and ended up on
a carpentry crew. And just in, just in
order to make some money. And everything fell into
place, I just understood immediately what they
were asking me to do and could do it, and before long I was
doing the kitchen cabinets and the built in, the book
shelves and that sort of thing and then that caused me to
take another look at furniture that’s made out of wood
too, how did they do that? And so I just set out to
learn to be a furniture maker. – [Rob] And that’s
what he became. Taking commissions to create
just about everything. – Well I make beds and
chests and tables and chairs and mirrors and, what have you, whatever
the customer wants within a certain quality level. But within that understanding I make every kind of furniture. – [Rob] All different, all the same in one
regard, quality. – [Alf] It want’s to be solid
pieces of fine old wood. The workmanship wants
to be first rate, the style wants
to be significant, it wants to be an important
piece of furniture to go in a home or a business. – [Rob] Alf’s original designs
are modern but grounded in the past. – When I come up with
an original design it always, it almost
always has a toe hold in tradition, it’s a
reinterpretation of
a traditional piece or a original use of a piece
of furniture is re-imagined or a particular style I’m fond of, I’ll make a piece of furniture that resembles that style. – Alf’s creations are seen and
appreciated in private homes everywhere, but you can
still see ’em when you come to places like this, which was
a very famous private home. – The wallpaper in the
hallways is 183 years old, it was picked out by Rachel
Jackson when they were building the house. – [Rob] Every year a
quarter million people come to visit the family home
of President Andrew Jackson. The Hermitage. They’ll see many things from
Andrew Jackson’s lifetime but the rest, well, – [Alf] It’s said that, that 90% of the furniture
in The Hermitage actually belonged to
Jackson, and I’ve done the other 10%. – [Rob] Alf built everything
from Venetian blinds to the capitals on top of
the front porch columns and a lot more. Marsha Mullens, the Chief
Curator here at The Hermitage, says the recreations
are important to give visitors a feel
of what things were like when the Jackson family
actually lived here. – Most of the furniture
in The Hermitage actually did belong
to the Jacksons and so we made the
decision because of all that
authenticity to recreate pieces that were missing
rather than try to find antique similar pieces. – [Rob] It’s the kind of
work Alf truly enjoys. – [Alf] For the historic
houses especially, you’re trying to match exactly what the original
owner of the house had. So there’s a lot of research
that goes into discovering what exactly the
original owner had, how that was made,
what it looked like. There’s a lot of
committee work goes on and you’re working with a
house restoration committee and so you’ll probably do a
prototype or two before you do the actual piece
of furniture for them. But, all of that stuff
actually makes it fascinating. – [Marsha] It does take
a lot of skill because it you know it’s a different
form than what you’re used to if you’re making
modern things and he has a real
sensitivity to it all. – [Rob] You might say
Alf has a feel for all of his work. – [Alf] A properly sharpened
tool, slicing through a piece of wood is a sensual thing. It’s, it’s very satisfying,
and consequently I use a lot of original hand tools. I mean I do have power
tools here in the shop and I use ’em in certain
cases but I also use a lot of the
original hand tools. Because they are so
satisfying to use, and there’s no
noise and no dust. When you’re working
with the old hand tools, it’s very pleasant. – [Rob] By the time Alf
begins to carve and cut he has a deep knowledge of what
he wants and how to get it. – This is a passion, so the passion remains. – [Rob] Still Alf
is semi retired now and admits there’s a
strong urge to just relax. In the end, the passion wins. Passion for the work
and his own standards. – My goal has always
been to have them be more excited about what
I’ve done than they were when they commissioned it. In other words I wanna
surprise them with the quality and the appearance of
the piece of furniture. – [Rob] Furniture made
with skill and passion by Alf Sharp.


One thought on “Alf Sharp Furniture Maker | Tennessee Crossroads

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *