Hand-Crafting Pieces to be Handed Down for Generations
by Susan Post
One local furniture maker is honoring the natural beauty of the wood he uses to hand craft his products, and he is keeping the process as organic as possible, all the way down to the finish he applies to the wood.
Tarik Yousef has been working with wood since he was a child. Making pieces during college almost turned into a full-time business after graduation, but Yousef decided to apply his mechanical engineering degree through a position at Honda. He spent four years there, learning a great deal about business before deciding to pursue T.Y. Fine Furniture full-time about four years ago.
“The time was right,” Yousef says. During its beginnings, T.Y. Furniture was sold primarily online, but on June 29, the business held the grand opening of a brick-and-mortar location in the Merion Village neighborhood of Columbus.
“A lot of [the decision] came from customers just asking for it over and over and over again,” Yousef says of his decision to open the store. People were eager to see his pieces before they purchased them.
T.Y. Fine Furniture offers both custom pieces and collections, all designed by Yousef from the ground up. He is often the one hand-making every single piece, as well.
Collections are typically based on a platform bed and work out from there. The Enso collection, the shop’s oldest, features a bed frame, two dressers and a side table. Other collections include rocking chairs and coffee tables, as well as uniquely designed cantilever tables. Custom pieces have also included desks, dining sets, tables, cabinets and bookcases.
Most of the furniture is made from cherry wood. “People love it because it matures with age so the wood tone actually gets darker,” Yousef says. He also works with woods like black walnut, maple and white oak. Yet, no matter the wood, “Our lumber is locally sourced so it all comes from Ohio,” he adds. “Most of it is actually naturally fallen trees. The material is still excellent quality but at the end of the day, you know you’re not clear cutting the forest to get what you need.” Sourcing the wood locally also cuts down the thousands of miles some lumber travels before it is ever used, further reducing the business’ carbon footprint.
This is just one of the steps Yousef takes to keep his furniture-making process environmentally friendly. Instead of thick stains and lacquers full of chemicals, T.Y. Fine Furniture finishes their pieces with an all-natural blend of food-grade organic oils.
“Our finish is all natural, we make it ourselves in-house,” Yousef says. “The recipe essentially dates back hundreds of years.” The finish has many benefits over traditional stains.
“It gives the wood a really nice sheen,” Yousef says. It also develops a beautiful patina over time. Through the finishing process, the oil soaks in and solidifies in the wood grain, giving it a good durability. With traditional stains, including polyurethanes and lacquers, if a piece of furniture is damaged and the finish scraped off, it is very difficult to fix it without the help of a skilled professional. With a T.Y. piece, owners can purchase their own bottle of finish to smooth out dings as needed since they are dealing with actual wood versus a thick coating of finish.
“There’s no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) whatsoever,” Yousef adds.
The shop carries a line of organic mattresses, providing another chance for customers to incorporate eco-friendly products into their everyday lives.
“They are probably the most all-organic mattress on the market,” Yousef says of the Chagrin Falls-based Naturepedic Mattress. The company is extremely diligent about checking all of their source materials.
Normal mattresses often contain polyurethane foam, which by itself is not that bad. The chemicals sprayed on mattresses to make them flame-retardant, however, are known to cause medical issues. They are chemicals that people breathe in night after night.
“A lot of the big mattress manufacturers who carry memory foam-type products, we get so many of their customers coming in all the time,” Yousef says.
The woodcrafter is driven to keep his process environmentally friendly for many reasons. As he makes many of the pieces himself, he does not want to breathe in potentially harmful chemicals. At the heart of his business, though, is a drive to make quality furniture that can be passed down for generations.
Location: 106 E. Moler St. For more information, call 614-929-5255, email service@TYFineFurniture.com or visit TYFineFurniture.com.
Susan Post is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus. She enjoys writing about her city and the people and places that make it special. Contact her at Susan.Post.email@example.com.