History and legacy cannot be erased. Family heirlooms give us a sense of who we are. The feel of permanence in an unpermanent world: your grandmother’s large oak table in the kitchen, the rocking chair in the den that you rocked on as a child, the six drawer dresser in the bedroom with your father’s name etched inside the top right drawer. You won’t easily forget the memories made around these pieces. They hold value but also gain it as time goes on and as your personal connections to them grow stronger.
In a one-hundred-year-old barn in Sheridan, IN, Tabb Adams crafts handmade pieces of furniture one by one in an effort to make people remember that their history, and the furniture that surrounds them, matters. Like the farmhouse that sits to the west of the barn, like the barn itself, Tabb’s furniture is built to last.
There will always be a quick fix, a simple solution, but it’s rarely one hundred percent the right move. The craftsmanship of a man’s hands can’t be matched by the precision of a machine or the speed of a computer. The mistakes he makes are made with care, though they’re still mistakes. Yet somehow these imperfections, these minute details, matter in that they make a piece unique. Tabb could build a thousand of the same beautiful table and see small differences in each one. Ultimate perfection doesn’t exist in nature. Mutations and subtle variations persist, and the world is more beautiful because of it. Do you want the same exact end table as your neighbor? Do you value uniformity or individuality?
There’s history in each piece of Tabb’s furniture, whether it’s a new piece or old, whether Tabb is refinishing your decades-old coffee table or crafting a new mid-century-modern-style desk from trees cut down late last year. He builds your furniture with the skill and care passed down from his great-grandfather, his grandfather, and father. A lineage that crafted buildings still standing today, over a century later. A fourth generation carpenter, Tabb has created more than most will in a lifetime. He’s built or rebuilt houses, tables, chairs, desks, and more. His commitment has always been to people first and the piece second. He lets the relationship craft the work and the work speak for itself.
The idea of the maker, the craftsman, isn’t new. But it’s one that’s creeping back into the forefront of our modern minds. In a time of particle board furniture with convoluted assembly instructions and limited lifetimes, Cross Cut Vintage Designs goes against the grain. It’s a spit in the face to every big-box store that sells mass-produced furniture. In a mobile world with fluidity at every turn, Tabb’s furniture stays strong and true. There’s no denying the quality and solidity with which it’s built.
Tabb’s satisfaction comes from the final product. It’s about the look on the customer’s face when they realize this piece of practical, handcrafted art is theirs. That realization they get when they see that their new piece of furniture is both an expression of their wants and needs and the culmination Tabb’s creative vision. Those projects, the ones where he has free reign and near total creative control, are the true gems. Those are the irreplaceable items. However, Tabb has no trouble building specifically what the customer requests.
As a contractor for several years, Tabb built structures to specific dimensions and parameters. No one has come into the shop yet with a job Tabb can’t do. That’s not to say he’s all knowing. He’ll be the first one to tell you if he doesn’t quite know how to do a job. But here’s the thing, instead of saying no and telling you to move on to someone else, Tabb will take his time and learn how to do it right. He’ll figure it out. He does this both for you and for himself. It’s another tool in his shop, another skill in his repertoire. He want’s to continue to learn and grow as much as he wants to perfect the skills he’s already completed. His dedication to and pursuit of the best possible design extend well beyond the capabilities of the typical garage handyman.
As the idea of the maker, the craftsman, works its way back in vogue, there are many posers. There are many would-bes. These men and women have the will but not the means. Their designs are interesting and popular, but they lack the expertise that comes from a lifetime commitment to the craft. They build with their heart, not their head, and sometimes this yields favorable results. Still, there comes a point where these limited designs outlive their use, and like the particle board furniture assembled from cardboard boxes the so-called makers claim their pieces not to be, they too will be cast aside.
Tabb’s work is different. His mind and his heart work as one. Together they tell his hands what to do, how to cut, assemble, sand, and finish. Tabb’s quality-control-driven father instilled in him the need to work hard and get it done right the first time. The words of his father keep his mind sharp, his hands steady, and his cuts straight. They ring in his ears when he sees a joint that isn’t perfectly square or when he notices a piece could use another session with the sander and another coat of finish. Tabb has a commitment to his customers, a commitment to his lineage, and a commitment to himself to build furniture people will love.
That is why Tabb makes his way out to his barn every morning when the dew is still on the grass and the light fog is lifting off the lush Indiana corn fields. He has a job to do. He has to build furniture that grounds people, not to a specific place, but to who they really are and where they really came from. Sometimes a sturdy structure can be something to rest on when you’re not sure which way to lean. It’s the permanency of the piece and the confidence with which it’s built that makes Tabb’s furniture so special.