Family trade passed from one generation to the next

(WBIR-Gatlinburg) Chair making is part of the Ogle family's heritage in the hills of Gatlinburg.

"The earliest one I know personally was my grandfather Isaac Ogle. I know that he learned the trade from a maternal aunt, Mary L we called her. Her whole family had been in woodworking," Randy Ogle said.

He passed it on to his son and that son passed it on to Randy Ogle. He made chairs with his father but was first inspired by his grandfather.

"It sounds kind of odd I suppose but he's the best friend I ever had. We were really close," he said.

He still has the first chair his grandfather ever made almost a hundred years ago when he was just a teenager.

"You can tell it's a little bit crude compared to his latter work but it's still a good durable chair. You can sit in it today if you're small enough to fit in it," he said.

Electricity transformed furniture making. But a lot of what his grandfather did, Randy Ogle still does today.

"I also have a lot of the tools that he used. The lathe I'm turning on now was his lather. I've got his table saw. I've got a lot of his hand tools," he said. "I have a very deep respect for the people who went before who made what we do now possible but I didn't have that appreciation until I was older."

The shop he calls The Chair Shop is about 50 years old, passed down from father to son. He also left Randy one final project.

It was a piece he has promised a customer before he passed away, and Randy finished it just like his father had finished some spinning wheels when Randy's grandfather died.

"I don't have anybody to carry on so I had better finish up," he said.

He finishes each piece after hours and hours of precise labor.

At The Chair Shop he mostly makes chairs but also creates custom pieces like a vanity. His creations are for sale in his shop and featured on the web. Something his grandfather could never imagine.

"I don't know that I will ever surpass his quality or my father's quality. My father was probably as big of an influence in my life as anybody. I don't know if I will ever surpass that quality but I do try to keep it as consistent as possible," he said.

"Aesthetics are very important but the durability of a piece is of first importance to me and it's functionality. I like to see do what it was designed to do and do it for a long time," he said.

And if his grandfather walked in to the chair shop today?

"I think he would just come in and go back to work. It's not changed a lot," he said.


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