When Dr. Eric Richards first purchased lots in what is now downtown Woodstock’s newest neighborhood space, Adair Park, he wanted to keep the existing trees for their aesthetic beauty at the planned building sites. He abandoned that notion, however, upon learning that the trees and root systems would take up more space than the buildings, making development impossible. Pivoting instead to preserving the cleared timber, Eric reached out to Leh Meriwether of Meriwether Millworks for advice on reusing the trees. Leh milled the raw timber and encouraged Eric to find a master woodworker to finish the lumber and assemble furniture. One of Eric’s Adair Park partners, Gary Peacock, introduced him to Michael Nixon of Woodstock and Iron Woodworking. Together Michael and Eric, with Gary’s help, crafted a vision to repurpose the trees into innovative desktops, workstations, reception desks, and conference room tables for Eric’s company, Collaborate Coworking.

Woodstock and Iron Woodworking (Photo Courtesy of A. Lewis Films)

Michael Nixon and Dr. Eric Richards (Photo Courtesy of A. Lewis Films)

Cherokee County Collaboration

After a local tree company harvested the trees, Leh Meriwether and his crew loaded and transported the usable logs to Meriwether Millworks in Canton. After the lumber was milled, some was naturally seasoned (air dried) for several months, and some went into a huge onsite kiln that finished drying it and sterilized it, removing any insects and eggs. Next the Meriwether crew fashioned each log into the best boards for the projects and delivered the rough-cut boards back to Collaborate Coworking. Because of the scope of the project, Eric welcomed Michael to set up a makeshift woodworking shop in the Collaborate Coworking basement in mid-June 2023. “This was the first project where I worked with rough-cut lumber, and there were piles of it stored in several locations,” Michael recalls.

Woodstock and Iron Woodworking / Adair Park / Collaborate Coworking (Photo Courtesy of Michael Nixon)

Woodstock and Iron Woodworking’s temporary shop space inside the Collaborate Coworking basement. (Photo Courtesy of Michael Nixon)

With some boards bordering on three inches thick and up to fifteen feet long, the size of the planks created a learning curve for Michael, as the pieces were much larger than anything he had worked with previously. Before the woodworking began, Michael calculated the space required for the completed project and then picked the types of wood with careful attention to grain, quality, and age. He also noted unique aspects of each piece of wood. “I could tell Michael was meticulous from our first meeting, which is something that is hard to find today,” Eric says proudly.

The timber included several species of wood, such as yellow pine, red oak, various types of hickory, American black walnut, and ambrosia maple.

The Beauty of Skilled Craftsmanship

Today guests at Collaborate Coworking are greeted at the raised reception desk that Michael designed and crafted. Clients use workspaces furnished with Michael’s handcrafted wooden desktops and workstation tabletops, each exceptional because he designed it from specific pieces of wood and then measured, cut, crafted, sanded, and protected it for each space.

Collaborate Coworking is located at 61 Linton Street, Suite 2400, in Woodstock.

For Collaborate Coworking’s largest conference room, The Summit, Michael measured the center of the room and then considered the overhead lighting source, traffic flow, seating arrangement, and the position of the windows. He calculated that the conference room called for a fourteen-foot-long, five-and-half-foot-wide walnut conference table. Given its size after construction, moving and positioning the massive tabletop from the basement to the fourth floor required five men, multiple hand trucks, and, ultimately, a crane.

Woodstock and Iron Woodworking / Adair Park / Collaborate Coworking (Photo Courtesy of Michael Nixon)

Eric interjects, “That table is cool because it’s not overwhelming—it’s the perfect size for that space. When [we] saw it in the woodworking shop [we] couldn’t help but wonder ‘how will this fit?’ but once it landed in the room, it was perfect.” The next project was The Magellan conference room table at Collaborate Coworking. When Michael measured the long, narrow room, he imagined a “boat table” for the space and constructed a long, narrow table with a wider center, allowing occupants to better see around the table. He thoughtfully gauged the wood coloring to be brown down the center with yellow stripes at the table’s widest points.

Eric adds, “I knew the products would be good, but they’ve been fabulous.”

Uniquely Distinctive Style

After learning woodworking skills from his father, Michael took on one of his first projects in 2019, creating trophies for the National High School Mock Trial Championship held in Athens, Georgia. As the director of the Georgia High School Mock Trial Competition and host director for Nationals, he relates, “I wanted something unique and set about designing the trophies to fit our mock trial case.” Over the course of five months, he built the trophies using wood and iron, connecting the trophies directly to the case. The distinctive awards were a hit and led to other projects. Former teacher Michael officially launched Woodstock and Iron Woodworking in 2022.

In his first few months of business, Michael crafted custom banquette benches for a veterinarian’s office in Florida, an eight-foot round table for the common area at His Hands Church in Woodstock, and a dinette table for a neighbor. “It’s been an evolution that I never saw coming.” Other projects Michael has completed include custom pantry buildouts, custom furniture builds, a kitchen island, barn-door installations, and even a custom playroom.

Michael can be reached at michael@woodstockandiron.com for Woodstock and Iron Woodworking project inquiries.

What’s Next?

Michael has moved in to new shop space just across the county line in Marietta and is working on several projects for other clients. For future plans at Adair Park, Eric shares, “I bought more property around Adair Park that contained a dilapidated shed built of salvaged wood possibly from the original 1868 Woodstock train depot.” Eric reached out to Woodstock historian Juanita Hughes for authentication, who responded that it may indeed be authentic, as the shed has the same rafter pattern as the train depot. Eric and Michael plan to repurpose the wood into a future portion of Adair Park with a bronze commemorative plaque bearing Juanita’s historical insights.

 

 

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