Made Right Here: Frederick Duckloe and Brothers
Updated On: Feb 04 2014 09:39:09 PM CST
Not a lot has changed at Frederick Duckloe and Brothers over the years, and that's just fine with fourth generation furniture maker and current company president Fred Duckloe.
“My father started here in 1937 in Portland, Pennsylvania, but he learned the business making furniture from his father,” explained Duckloe.
Initially, during the post-WWII years, the Duckloe's did it all, crafting everything from cabinets and hutches to chests and chairs. Now the company's bread and butter is its Windsor chair.
“Windsor chairs were designed from English Windsor chairs back in the pre-Revolutionary War,” said Duckloe.
But that’s not the only home furnishing staple you’ll find being assembled in the Duckloe workshop: there are benches, stools, and tables, too- all made the old-fashioned way.
First the parts that make up the finished products are crafted and stored for future use, and there’s a lot of fine-tuning to make sure
those parts are both functional and comfortable.
Duckloe likes to show off the factory’s “seat scooper.”
“You have to have a deep seat scoop to make the seat comfortable,” he explained. “We do it very slowly on a machine that's 100 years old.”
Duckloe says the Smithsonian museum expressed interest in acquiring the machine, but the company wasn’t willing to part ways with it.
When it's time to put all of the parts together, nails and screws aren't necessary. Our cameras were rolling as factory foreman Earl Strunk carefully put glue in the holes in the back of a settee, before inserting the spindles in the holes and hammering them into place.
The finally stop for a piece of Duckloe furniture is the finishing room, where glazes, toners, lacquers, and paints are applied. Shoppers can then view the finished products in one of two showrooms in Portland. In fact, they're the only showrooms where you'll find the Duckloe name.
Duckloe does take orders on its website, www.duckloe.com, in what is perhaps one of the company's only modern concessions.
Fred Duckloe admits, there aren't too many furniture makers left. But obviously the company that bears his name has been doing a lot of things right over the past century, right here in Portland.
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