Chairmaking

Max Woody

Max Woody chair shop.

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Aaron Buff

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Aaron Buff

Chair maker

Burke County

Aaron Buff found his calling as a chair maker when he was about ten years old. One of ten children of Hud and Cordie Buff, who farmed and operated a corn mill in the southern part of Burke County, he attended the nearby Absher school in the early 1920s. "They had a workshop down there, and they made stools and the man made splits," he recalled. "Had two turning lathes down there. I never will forget, I turned one round and put it in a chair I took from the house. Oh law, I thought I had done something!"

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Michael Wheeler

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Gina and Michael Wheeler

Broom maker and chair maker

Barnardsville, NC (Buncombe County)

Gina Wheeler, a broom maker, grew up in Hendersonville in an artistic family. She apprenticed for several years with broom maker Alton Blankenship, learning directly from him the art that Blankenship learned from his father in Rutherford County. Blankenship spoke admiringly of his protégé's work. She often accompanied him and assisted him at his demonstration engagements until his passing in August, 2011.

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Lyle Wheeler

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Arval Woody

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Max Woody

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Lyle Wheeler

Chair Maker, Blacksmith

Millers Creek, NC (Wilkes County)

Lyle Wheeler grew up in a family in rural northeastern Pennsylvania surrounded by woodworking and blacksmithing, and he continued to develop his own skills in these crafts when he moved to Wilkes County as a young man in 1978. One of Lyle's grandfathers worked on chairs in a factory, and the other was a blacksmith and machinist. His great uncle owned and ran a sawmill, and he also did some blacksmithing to make livestock water troughs and other farm necessities.

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Arval Woody

Chair Maker

Spruce Pine, NC (Mitchell County)

Arval Woody lived in Spruce Pine all of his life, and he worked as a fifth generation chair maker and woodworker after serving in the military during World War II. Woody's grandfather, Arthur Woody was a chair maker. His great-grandfather, Henry Woody, was a chair maker, and his great-great-grandfather, Wyatt Woody, was also chair maker. One family story claims that the family name was Anderson, but it was changed to Woody because they did so much wood work. "I have sawdust in my blood," Arval said.

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