Why So Long?
Why does it take so long? That’s a frequent question we get asked over and over by our customers, so we thought you might be interested in what makes Rocky Top log furniture unique and different from the normal “cookie cutter” products you can order online and get within a week.
Step 1 – The Beginning
It all begins with the logs. Northern white cedar grows mostly in swamps in the southern and eastern part of Canada and the adjacent northern part of the United States. Most of the logs we use at Rocky Top are hauled in from the upper northern part of Michigan. Due to the swampy landscape, heavy machinery can only be used during a limited time of the year. For some of our products like our Buck Ridge line, lumberjacks must wade in and cut down each tree. The trees are drug out of the swamp, stripped down to the logs, and then loaded on a truck. The truck driver hauls the load to Bryantsville, Kentucky where Rocky Top’s manufacturing plant is located.
Step 2 – Your Order
After browsing our showrooms, checking out the catalog, or viewing our website, you (our customer) can choose what products you’d like to have for your home, cabin rental, or commercial property. Our sales team reps have years of experience and can answer any questions you may have. Once you place your order with one of our sales representatives, your order is put into the system and put on our production schedule in the order it was received.
Your order falls in line behind other projects that are already set for production. Lead times vary especially during the busy campground season as we accommodate many large commercial jobs. Every piece of furniture built at Rocky Top is built specifically for each customer. We take pride in the quality of our products that are built to last through generations. We take our time and do it right.
Step 3 – It Starts with the Logs
There are no assembly lines at Rocky Top. A craftsman will take your order and start the building process by visually checking stacks of logs to choose the right logs needed to build your product.
Step 4 – The Round Shop
In the round shop you’ll find all things “round.” In other words, this is where the round logs are worked on.
Depending on the texture you choose, logs are:
Sanded smooth to the touch for the Cottage product line,
Given knife drawn accents for the Hand Hewn product line, or
Left in their natural state for the Buck Ridge product line. For the Buck Ridge line the bark is carefully removed and the logs gently sanded to preserve the unique characteristics of the wood. No two pieces are alike.
Next holes are drilled in the proper places and log ends “sharpened” for the mortise and tenon process. The mortise and tenon joint has been used for thousands of years by woodworkers around the world to join pieces of wood. The basic mortise and tenon comprises two components: the mortise hole and the tenon tongue. It is one of the strongest joints in woodworking.
Step 5 – The Flat Shop
In the flat shop you’ll find workers making all things “flat.” Drawers, bookcases, desks, and other products that have flat wooden areas are created in this manufacturing area.
There are three texture options for flat surfaces and each option requires different processes.
Sanded Smooth – Simply sanded down smooth to touch with a nice clean look.
Rough Sawn – Shows the deep saw cuts left in the wood.
Reclaimed – Reclaimed is made from old and specialty wood salvaged and repurposed from old barns, factories, and buildings. A lot of the wood is over 80-100 years old, each piece coming with a history of its own. When you purchase from our reclaimed line, you aren’t just buying a product, but a story, a story that Rocky Top seeks to uphold. The wood is lightly sanded to preserve the texture formed over time.
Once the round and flat pieces are completed, the furniture is put together.
Step 6 – Sanding
Each piece of furniture is sanded according to the texture chosen. Hours are spent at sanding machines and with hand sanders making each piece of furniture unique.
Step 7 – Finishing
Once the product is assembled and sanding is completed, the furniture piece goes to the finishing area. Here workers hand spray the lacquer finish on each piece. There are three choices of color:
Clear – A clear finish shows the true grains and natural color of the wood. To ensure maximum protection and coverage of your furniture, not one, but three coats of finish are applied to every piece by our skilled craftsmen.
Grizzly — Grizzly is a special blend brown stain developed specifically for Rocky Top. Workers carefully perform a series of detailed processes, applying the stain, hand-wiping with rags, then applying three coats of finish on every furniture piece. The darker brown stain on the wood highlights the grain when the topcoat is added.
Natural – The wood is left in its original state with no stain or finish applied allowing the natural beauty to shine through. All unfinished products are sanded and wiped down, going through the same processes that any other piece would, making your furniture smooth to the touch. Leaving your furniture unfinished allows for a subtle and simple look in your home which can always be dramatized with accessories.
After finishing is completed, drying processes vary for each piece of furniture. And if there are multiple coats of stain, drying must be completed between applications.
Step 8 – Shipping
After the product is completed, it goes to the shipping area. Here it is wrapped for protection, packaged and put on pallets to be shipped to you. A Care and Warranty brochure is included providing you information on how to take care of your log furniture. Hardware and assembly instructions are also included. On each pallet you will find a “shock watch indicator.” Packages are labeled “Handle With Care” and if the shock indicator turns red, it indicates to the customer that it’s had rough handling by the freight company. This is just another way Rocky Top strives to protect our customers and provide the best service possible.
When your products are picked up by the freight carrier, you will receive an email from Rocky Top’s shipping department that your order has left our facility, provide you with the tracking number, and also give you the terminal contact information and phone number.
So you see, that’s why it takes so long. Your order is special to us as is every order that comes through our plant. Hundreds of pieces of furniture are being built every week. Rocky Top workers toil tirelessly each day building furniture to fill all the orders in addition to providing furniture for our Kentucky and Tennessee show rooms.
It’s a job we all love, and we’re committed to building heirloom quality furniture designed to last a lifetime with a natural beauty that adds life to any home. That’s why it takes so long and it’s well worth the wait.