The essence of live edge furniture is that each piece has a rich and sometimes significant history. Where it has come from, what it has been through and what purpose it is about to serve.
Local company, Tree to Table, provides a meticulously handcrafted piece of Niagara lumber to those nostalgic enough, who want it immortalized in their own home.
Co-founders and Owners of Tree to Table, Ted Kirkpatrick and Adrian Pennachetti, have been best friends since the 7th grade, growing up in St. Catharines and Beamsville respectively. Their friendship continued through high school, where both attended Ridley College and remained strong as they pursued post-secondary studies. While Kirkpatrick’s interests led him to Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo and Pennachetti to McGill University in Montreal, after graduation the two reunited back on home turf and embarked on two different career paths. However, when the opportunity presented itself that would allow the pair to come to together and try their hand at something new, they not only accepted the challenge, they embraced it and have seen it flourish into a bona fide business.
Several years ago the region experienced a severe windstorm that took a toll on, among other things, a multitude of walnut trees on the property of Cave Springs Cellars. The winds may have left the landscape in shambles, but it gave birth to a genius upcycling project for the duo. The winery, belonging to the Pennachetti family, is from where the first Tree to Table piece was created. As Kirkpatrick explains, “I was just starting to get into making little wooden knick knacks, like cribbage boards and things. When Adrian’s Dad told us that there were these trees down, and we figured they were walnut trees, we said to each other ‘if we salvage these trees and get someone to mill them, we could probably sell the slabs. But if we dried the slabs, we could make a table.’” So they delved into the bush, hauling out their first batch of wood, had it milled up and began brainstorming possible end products with this new found valuable resource. Timing could not have been more serendipitous, as Kirkpatrick describes, “Adrian’s friends were moving to British Columbia and wanted something from the Niagara Region to take with them, so they asked ‘why don’t you build us a table?’ and we said ‘ok, we’ll do it.’” That was the first project they ever did, under the guidance of someone they knew who was knowledgeable in the field of carpentry.
After the inaugural table was complete, the following haul saw them bring back ten trees, then twenty, and eventually the pair outgrew their original ‘workshop,’ of the convenient yet limited location of Pennachetti’s basement. The Co-founder painted the picture, “it was pretty hilarious; trying to get eight foot tables out of a basement of a bungalow!” Over time, greater projects both in number and scale, required not only the accumulation of new tools but also a new space. In mid-2015, they rented a shop to accommodate their increase in supply, but it didn’t last long. The pair recently opened their current location in Smithville, in October 2017, to accommodate their increase in demand. Despite the high acclaim for their upcycled creations, Tree to Table stays humble: “we’re not trained carpenters, we’re not even great wood workers, but once you kind of get a system down of how to do that, then you can streamline it and make it efficient, and so we just got good at making tables.”
Browsing through their pictorial gallery of completed tables, “good” would be the last word that comes to mind. Impressive, beautifully crafted and exquisite would better describe what is forged in their Smithville workshop. Aside from milling and drying, time and heart are the intangible components that go into all of their pieces. Each table goes through a lengthy yet thorough process, that can take up to eight months before being ready for delivery to your dining room. However, if the materials have already gone through the necessary steps and are ready, on hand when a request for an order comes in, the pair can then turn out the final product in a considerably shorter amount of time. “What we’ve been trying to do in the last year is build an inventory. We’ve had three different styles of legs made and they’re all interchangeable between a six and an eight foot table. Then we’ve built six and eight foot tables in four different types of wood,” says Kirkpatrick. The challenge posed is trying to materialize a stock of ready-to-go table tops in order to allow their online store to be fully operational, while in the midst of keeping up with current customers’ orders.
As word of mouth spreads about this local duo and what they’re up to, as well as their online presence, area businesses are already placing orders. For instance, Tree to Table just completed a major project of creating all of the tables for the Garrison House, a family restaurant located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, utilizing some of the more interesting salvaged wood. “All of the wooden, oak beams on the (Welland) Canal, once they’re garbage they take them off and then you can buy them. So we bought a bunch of old, wooden beams from the Canal, remilled them and then made all of the tables at the Garrison House out of that,” describes Kirkpatrick.
Their largest project to date that the duo are presently working on is a wine tasting bar for a local business, which consists of a 14 foot long, single piece of oak wood. Yet not all of the finished products are on such a grand scale; “the size of the tree dictates what it is going to be best used for. Sometimes you get pieces and decide all of these are going to be benches, or all of these are going to be coffee tables – but a lot of the time you don’t know what you’re getting into until you cut it open,” says Kirkpatrick. “Sometimes you cut something open and you say ‘this is going to be awesome,’ so you section that off and say ‘let’s try to make something really spectacular with this.’” One of the unique stories of a ‘spectacular’ table that has been made, was for an individual from the area who requested that hers be made from one of the ash trees which was cut down. Recently, crews have been making wide-sweeping efforts to remove the diseased trees from the city, and per this client’s request, she wanted her table specifically made from the wood of one of these ash trees and specifically with all of the beetle marks noticeably in it. That is what was important to her and again, what makes their work so unconventional yet beautiful.
While it may seem that there are many options to choose from when it comes to hand crafted, live edge furniture, this is where you can find a Niagara-sourced, locally made product of which to be proud to have in your home. “I think that’s really what distinguishes us,” describes Kirkpatrick, “if you go to Toronto, there’s a lot of live edge furniture makers, but they’re importing their wood from all over the world. Whereas we’re not, which also allows us to keep our prices reasonable.”
The team of Kirkpatrick and Pennachetti have embarked on a truly avante-garde furniture company with Tree to Table. They not only help the environment by repurposing logs that are otherwise firewood, but their creations become statement pieces of the rooms in which they occupy. Character, meets sustainability, meets practicality, all rooted in Niagara. TM