May 24, 2018
Created Hardwood is a fresh sight in our already unique Short North Arts District. Walking in, visitors spy gorgeous monoliths of wood with the original edges of the trees they were taken from leaning cooly against a white wall, basking in the natural lighting beaming in from the ceiling. Beautiful wooden tables, seating, floating shelves, and cutting boards of various natural colors all await being taken home, where they will live for generations. Needless to say, for a prideful family heirloom, conference room centerpiece, the most fantastic cutting board you’ll ever gift, or for whatever reason you just want a huge slab of wood, check out this brand new business located at on W. Poplar Ave.
Created Hardwood was founded by Dwain Hicks and is now managed day-to-day by his sons, the brothers and business partners Jon and Phillip Hicks. Both graduates of The Ohio State University, Jon and Phillip were finding great success in their design and business administration degrees, respectfully, when their father buddied up with two Amish men in northeastern Ohio. He had 30 years of experience working with wood stairs, and saw the trend of keeping live edges on tables and other surfaces gain momentum.
“The original business plan was to dry and mill and just sell the slabs raw,” said Phillip of his father’s plan. “Well, the mistake they made was finishing one, and when they finished they were like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is gorgeous,’ so next thing you know they’re finishing all of them.”
Jon and Phillip “bailed” on their career jobs and began building up Created Hardwood. From mainly a trade show venture, to a website, to now a storefront, the family has worked hand-in-hand to sell the finest finished wood an interior designer can find.
“We’re mostly focused on showcasing the beauty of a continuous piece of wood in all of our pieces, and let that be the star,” said Jon, who flies to the Short North Arts District once a month for two weeks from his office in San Francisco. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; We’re just trying to produce quality furniture that’s very refined and pays attention to all the details and gets it right.”
In addition to the live edges, Created Hardwood highlights its use of responsibly-sourced trees in its catalogue. This means that the chosen trees were inevitably going down for construction, land repurposing, or residential safety reasons.
Transforming one of these trees into a Created Hardwood product can take up to 18 months. Everything beyond the initial felling of the tree is done by the 10 employees in Created Hardwood’s manufacturing facility in the Amish Country of Holmes County, Ohio. First, a section of the standing tree’s trunk is cut vertically to capture the live edge. This is then cut horizontally, creating the slabs. Sticks are inserted between the slabs, and once their air-drying percentage has reached a certain level, they are placed in a dry kiln to further desiccate. Once drying is complete, the slabs go into a planar, which makes them as level as possible.
Jon noted that correctly drying and leveling slab wood in its solid state is a challenges since wood is unpredictable. Although it’s taken from a once-living thing, it never really dies – it seems to have a mind of its own and is tempted to curl up or crack along the production line. Once it is tamed, though, it becomes an heirloom piece that will be beloved by all who run their palms over its smooth surface.
“You never really know what’s going to happen with it,” he said. “You take all the proper steps to dry it the right way to make sure it’s as stable as possible, but different climate changes, changes in moisture and humidity, and just the conditions that it goes in; the wood’s always moving, so it makes it tough to work with sometimes, but in the end it’s worth it. It means that the process is a lot more difficult than making things traditionally with board lumber, but the payoff outweighs those challenges and makes it worthwhile.”
With the success so far, Jon and Phillip would like to see Created Hardwood grow into 12 to 15 storefronts nationwide. However, they will never forget where it all started – right here in the Short North Arts District.
“I think it’s the group of stores that are in conjunction with what we’re doing,” Phillip said. “It’s a certain level of several different businesses where everyone is [paying] a lot of attention to detail, not just throwing out random products. It’s a reputable area to do business.”
“There’s a quality level that matches our own [here]. The stores are really well done, everything’s curated really well, and it seemed like the place for us to be,” Jon said of choosing a location for the first Created Hardwood. Phillip added that the District is a “place with good taste.”