About Us


Shortly after moving to Atlanta in 1974, I opened Tolmach’s Joinery on North Highland Avenue. By 1978 I combined forces with Helene and Joseph Baird to start and manage Chattahoochee Makers Company, building fine outdoor furniture. In 1985 I established Hand Made Furniture, sharing the workshop at 1143 Ponce de Leon Avenue with antique restorer Bernard Spenlé. We moved the workshop to its present location in Avondale Estates in 1994.


Hand Made Furniture uses mostly fine domestic hardwoods, which are a renewable resource. They are available locally and provide a wide range of appearance and structural qualities. In the recent past, we have made furniture from black walnut, cherry, white and red oaks, southern and hard maples, birch, beech, poplar, pecan, white pine, yellow pine, and salvaged old heart pine. We also incorporate fiber, metal, ceramic, stone and glass in our designs; we avoid plastic laminates, fiberboard and particleboard.


Same leg, stained, shaded and lacquered
Unfinished cherry leg

We use finishing techniques appropriate for each piece of furniture and its intended use. Typically, a pre-catalyzed lacquer will beautify and protect for decades without needing care beyond dusting and cleaning. For heavily used pieces, such as dining tables and liturgical furniture, catalyzed varnish and polyurethane finishes have proven quite durable.

Antique reproductions may call for an antique finish, such as shellac and paste wax. If a new piece is to be made with old parts (e.g., antique doors on a new cabinet) or made to blend with existing furniture, it may need to be stained, shaded and distressed to match the original.

We have worked with several artists in the region who have produced beautifully painted or decorated surfaces on our furniture. We can certainly make a recommendation should you desire that service.

What to expect

There are a variety of reasons why people want custom made furniture. If you have a hard time finding just the right piece at a store, we can satisfy your needs. We build to the scale of your room, to fit your size, to match your furniture, to facilitate your work, to meet your imagination, to last for generations. 

If you are interested in learning more about having a piece of furniture made, please call or write James Tolmach. Typically, after a brief discussion I can prepare a rough estimate of the costs and time involved. Should you decide to proceed, I will make a formal proposal, including sketches or drawings as needed. Most projects require a 50% deposit, with the balance due upon successful completion. I accept payment by check. You are welcome to visit the workshop to meet with me and to see the piece as it takes form.