Let me just start off by saying that as someone who has done a good amount of metal work, including working with old railroad track, that the amount of work and time that must have gone into cutting the track for these pieces is monumental. That being said, there must be a good reason for the output of effort, which you can see in this striking collection of furniture. Rail Yard Studios uses what would otherwise be scrap leftover from the replacement, repair, and upgrading of rail lines in the southeastern US to make contemporary furniture.
Sustainability has always been synonymous with the railroad, and the functional furnishings from Rail Yard Studios are pure railroad. Our steel rails are salvage material, and we rescue the crossties from the tie plant furnace.
Handmade in America of 100% American materials, every work is one of a kind – individually numbered and cataloged. Each design is copyrighted and becomes a unique work that preserves a vanishing piece of history.
Now, if you know anything about railroads, you may have had a major red-flag moment at seeing the railroad crossties used, knowing that they are normally treated with creosote, among other chemical you do not want to touch. The difference is that these timbers have never been used.
First, we do not use creosoted ties. We use only new ties that have not yet been treated in any way. These timbers were “culled” as seconds, marked and destined for the furnace before we intercepted them from that fate. We stain some ties to give them color, and we seal all of the ties with finishes just like you would find on hardwood floors or a piece of fine furniture.
These ties were singled out because of excessive knots, splits, warps or other imperfections. While those features make those ties less than ideal for running 180,000 pound rail cars over them, they add great character to our pieces.
You may share our sentiment – it bothers us that a tree gets cut down and then not used for its intended purpose. But we’re proud that these timbers will have a more elegant and longer life sheltered from the elements in the safety of our patron’s homes and offices.
Which means, that among other things, I would trust them with my wine and books.
An interesting note is that Robert Hendrick, one of the founders of Yard Rail Studios, has an industrial design background, just like ourselves, and is also aiming to preserve the history of the materials that they recover.
Robert Hendrick and his father Jim are the men behind Rail Yard Studios. In retrospect, it was inevitable that they would end up working with steel and wood. Jim began his professional life as a carpenter’s assistant, and it became a lifelong hobby that he passed along to his son. Robert’s grandfather, Jim’s dad, owned a steel foundry in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. [...]
A few years after getting his Bachelors and Master of Arts degree in Industrial Design, Robert purchased a railroad contracting company. Out on the rails, he saw century old names like Carnegie, Bethlehem, Illinois and Tennessee and dates from 1911, 1916 and even 1899 being sold for scrap.
Unwilling to simply let history be wiped away, Robert set about planning Rail Yard Studios and got his railroad crew involved when they got an occasional slow day on the line. Today he preserves the legacy of the rails and encourages others to join in the effort through the pieces they purchase from the studio.
It is great to know that when someone sees history headed for the scrap heap, they do not just stand back, but set out to do something about it.