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This Hungarian Craftsman Makes Furniture From Old Bourbon Barrels

Balazs Maldovan shows that bourbon barrels are good for more than rodeos and storing booze.

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The Adirondack chair was invented exactly as one hopes it was: by a guy on summer vacation in need of some patio furniture. That man was Thomas Singer, the year was 1903, and the destination was — you guessed it — Upstate New York. More than a century later, little has changed: 11 wooden boards, straight back, sloped seat and armrests wide enough to ballast a cocktail glass or two.

Park a pair of those puppies on a porch and get busy growing old. They’ll hang in right there with you.

But if you’re buying a chair that will stick around forever, do you really want it to resemble every other patio chair in town? Why not go with something different, handmade, unequivocally yours?

That’s where craftsman Balazs Maldovan and his Etsy store, the Hungarian Workshop, come in. Maldovan was building patio furniture out of redwood when he moved to San Diego and linked up with Stone Brewery, a massive brewhouse based out of Escondido. Stone sent an old bourbon barrel his way, requesting an Adirondack chair. Maldovan obliged. Hungarian was born.

These days, Maldovan’s filled out his furniture offerings — barstools, pub chairs — and added an unexpected mix of wares, selling everything from bar-tap handles to farmhouse clocks to longboards.

Working with bourbon barrels, predictably, has its challenges: Maldovan spends a decent amount of time online hustling to find more barrels (some whiskey, some wine), while the curved, omni-unique nature of barrel staves makes them difficult to wrangle together. Not to mention, the broad range of his products makes some options far more difficult to build than others — assembling a chess set can take as long as multiple lounge chairs.

Below, we’ve chosen five of our favorites from his hard-earned collection. Some small, some tall, all made from barrels that once housed some good hooch. Hope you’ve been saving.

farmhouse clock

Farmhouse Clock
“Clock face” barrel heads from a variety of different distilleries. Handsome as all heck-fire.

pub stools

Pub Stools
The dream barroom starts here. There’s something effortlessly satisfying about those random numbers on the seat, too.

barrel chair

Barrel Chair
Full. Grain. Italian. Leather. We’ll take two.

Adirondack
Hungarian Workshop’s signature hotcake. Approachably priced, and those curved staves work overtime on lumbar support.

longboard

Longboard
The product of working beachside for years. It’s fitted with over-sized wheels for a smooth cruise.

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