Finds From Away
Island Teak imports quality wood furniture from halfway around the world, designed with Maine in mind
Once a year, Jack Stone flies nearly 12,500 miles to reach the Indonesian island of Bali. From there, he takes another plane to Java, then embarks on a twohour drive from the airport to the same small town that he’s been visiting for 20 years. When he travels home to Wiscasset, he is trailed by cargo, shipping containers filled with teak wood furniture, live-edge slabs of oily teak wood, and twisted, knotty, polished balls of teak roots that have been sanded until they shine.
Jack and Patti Stone are the husband-andwife team behind Island Teak. You may have driven by their storefront on Route 1, located just south of the busy Wiscasset downtown. You may have noticed the garden furniture sprawled across the lawn, or perhaps taken note of the bright yellow banners and American flags that wave in the sunlight. Here, on this oneacre plot of land, the Stone family has created a little patch of Java, a place where vacationers can pick up classic Indonesian garden benches, nautical-themed side tables, and striking liveedge and resin-filled tabletops. According to Stone, all these pieces are “of the finest quality available on the market today at a price that— and I hear this all the time from customers—is really unbelievable.”
Although he serves the local market, Stone says many of his customers are out-of-state residents with summer homes in Maine. Since his clientele is diverse, Stone likes to offer a mix of different styles, from more straightforward slat-top tables meant for outdoor use (a “standard design” for many Indonesian factories) to experimental and organic slab tables with of-the-moment metal hairpin legs, butterfly joints, and poured resin accents. He’s also created a line of tables and chairs for outdoor use inspired by the teak grates used to cover the cargo holds of wooden ships. “The grating would ventilate the cargo hatch to keep their goods from molding,” he explained. “I thought it would look cool to build a table with that same design.” The result is appealingly minimalist, slightly unexpected, and totally unique to Island Teak.
When asked why he chose this particular business, Stone replies candidly, sharing stories of his first love: boats. “Quality of life is what motivates me—I originally got into the boatbuilding business because I like to play with boats,” he says. “I really just want to be outside, going sailing, fishing, and being outdoors.” Stone was originally trained as a boatbuilder. He first fell in love with teak while, alongside his mentor, he was restoring a 65-foot teak ketch built in the early 1900s in Rotterdam. “We pulled up all these rotten screws, and we thought that the planks would need to be replaced, too,” he remembers. “But every one of those old teak planks was in great condition. They had sat in the ocean for 65 years, and there was nothing wrong with them.” It was right then that he realized, as he says, “teak is a special wood.”
The same qualities that make teak a good wood for boatbuilding—its oil content keeps moisture from seeping in, which means fewer microbes and less rot—also make it a great material for all-weather furniture. “It weathers to a handsome gray color,” which, he says, looks right at home next to shingle-style houses and coastal clapboards. “Plus, when it comes to sturdiness, teak can’t be beat.” Stone knocks on the still-brown wood of a long, wide teak table, then he smiles and adds, “You could even dance on that.”
EXPERT ADVICE FOR OUTDOOR DECOR
- First of all, resist your urge to add any sort of finish to the natural teak. “One of the things about teak that works with the coast of Maine is that the gray and brown colors of the stones and the hardscape are exactly the same color as weathered teak,” Stone explains. “There is no maintenance for teak. You should let it weather to gray.” He advises washing your teak furniture every now and then with a gentle soap, but otherwise leaving it alone.
- Since teak takes on a nice gray tone with time, Stone says it works really well with natural materials like slate and granite. “If you build a patio with 18-inch-high walls, you can even build seating for one of the tables into the stone wall, using it like a bench,” he says. He’s seen customers plan their patios this way, and advises buying a single bench and one long table to replicate this rugged look.
- When it comes to styling the gratetop tables, Stone suggests leaning into the nautical theme with hurricane lamps and kerosene lanterns. “An antique lantern is a no-brainer to match with this,” he says. “Go into any antique store around here, and you’ll find half a dozen steel ones.” (If you see a brass lamp, he says, “snatch that up and be willing to pay for it.” Antique brass is a rare find and looks great with weathered teak.)
- Finally, if you love the live-edge look, ask Stone which pieces are intended for indoor use and which can be brought outside. While some of the live-edge tables can function just fine on a patio, others are prone to warping. Stone also does custom work, so if you don’t see what you want, go ahead and ask.