Picking through a pile of apple-tree limbs – looking for the wood that would connect the legs of a $3,000 custom-made modern end tables – the woodworker tossed away the straight branches.
John aimed to be crooked.
The furniture-maker threw out every impulse of his 25 years of woodworking experience and his usual quest to find unspoiled grains and elegant, straight lines in wood.
He plucked several apple limbs and stumps from a trash pile in a nearby orchard and went to work in his basement shop.
Mod tempo’s exacting work given the cost of the pieces – $1,200 for a rocking chair, $3,200 for a desk, $6,200 for a TV stands.
John was visiting a client in Cleveland when he was shown a rustic-looking bench. The client asked Levitt if he knew someone who might make something similar.
In his shop at home in Turner, he photographed the stumps and limbs, double-checking with the buyer, and went to work when the OK came back.
Most everything was done by hand.
He sliced away the bark with a draw knife – a two-hand tool that looks like a cross-cut saw – and did the detailed stripping and sculpting with a spoke shave and chisel.