Woodworker hones his craft in cedar and cypress

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

BRONSON — Jackie Strickland was enjoying gently rocking in the chair.

“A buddy of mine got me started 10 years ago,” he said.

“I do all the work myself. It’s all hands on by me.”

“I log my own wood, mill it and cure it out,” he says. That’s an investment of a year’s time from cutting to rocking.

Strickland obtains his wood by taking down trees for property owners. He will cut the tree and haul the wood, he says, but the owners must haul the brush left by the job.

First it was cypress wood. Then came the cedar wood.

And he was hooked for life or so it seems as he sits in the rocker on the corner of Highway 27 and State Road 24 at this city’s main stoplight. He is in a chair with a 20-inch seat height.

His guest lolls in a rocker with a higher 22-inch seat. It’s not only great for longer-legged people; it’s easier on those older arthritic knees. “Exactly,” says Strickland. “But I can make them any way you like.”

Surrounded by rocking chairs, camp chairs, gliders, swings, benches, pews and chaise lounges, Strickland is in his element. He has children’s furniture as well as the more common adult. And he makes items to order.

It’s a sunny but chilly day and Strickland has set out well over 50 pieces of furniture. It has a satiny finish, but it gleams with warm red and yellow streaks of cedar against the nearby golden cypress furniture. Some has finished edges; some is left with the bark on the rims, giving it a rustic tough.

“I really like the cedar better because of the look,” he says in a voice that carries a loving note. “No two are the same. There’s the red and the knots. And it’s just aromatic. You can smell it.”

Cypress, not to be put down, has a more uniform look, he says. And he’s not limited to those two woods, although most of his work is done in cedar and cypress.

Strickland said the man who taught him woodworking had a standard pattern for the rockers. “I’ve stuck to it and it sells,” he says. But he has also obtained several more patterns.

“Although I do get a lot of special stuff to make, from cribs to cradles.”

This year has been challenging as Strickland has seen the polyurethane and other supplies he uses rise in price along with gasoline prices.

And after last year’s rush to satisfy orders, he says business has been steady but slower this holiday season.

Strickland will be on the corner at State Road 24 and Highway 27 on Saturday. His products are also available at selected retailers in the county.