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Twigg Furniture grows from farm start-up to busy workshop

By Etienne Nagel, Wood-Mizer Africa

Twigg Feature Image

Bathurst in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province is home to Twigg Furniture Company.  


The charming country village en route to Port Alfred on South Africa’s east coast is steeped in history, the hamlet serving as the early administrative centre for the British Settlers when they first arrived in Africa in the 1820s. 


The Settler community and the culture they brought still remain today. Farms in the area resemble the dales and moors of the British Isles, with dyed-in-the-wool farming folk running successful cattle, game and sheep farms, breeding horses and living close to the ground.  


Bathurst is also the pineapple capital of South Africa. The temperate coastal climate and hills and valleys around it provide ideal pineapple growing conditions and make South Africa the 29th largest pineapple producer in the world. 

The father & son team of Curt and MJ Herbst that started Twigg Furniture


It’s finally also the destination for retired academics, artists and eccentrics, the beauty and charm of the small town wooing them to start artisanal eateries, galleries and craft enterprises like Twigg Furniture Company. 

Curt Herbst and his son Matthys Johannes or “MJ” for short, started Twigg Furniture on Myrtle’s Grove, a cattle farm outside Bathurst. 

MJ’s interest in timber started in 2011 when he remodelled his mother Maria’s kitchen with sawn timber that Curt had cut on his Wood-Mizer LT40. 

The kitchen that now cooks up a storm in Maria’s preserve company, Myrtle’s Grove Artísan Preserves, inspired MJ to work wider, while Curt’s contract cutting business on nearby farms also took off. 

“The farmers in the area knew what my Wood-Mizer could do, so they used me to clear timber with a commercial value from the farms,” Curt says. 

The Pine, Cedar and Yellowwood that Curt produced on his Wood-Mizer soon ended up in bespoke furniture pieces and later log homes. The father and son team quickly gained acclaim from the projects and commissions they oversaw. 

A beautiful piece of Cedar timber split on the Wood-Mizer LT40 now waiting for production in Twigg Furniture’s workshop in Bathurst.
The workshop with a batch of chairs in the making.


Bespoke furniture and timberware

With Twigg Furniture taking off, the decision to move the business from the farm to Bathurst quickly paid dividends. 

The company’s new workshop at the Bathurst Showgrounds’ premises gave Twigg the room it needed to blossom. Custom furniture, exclusive timberware like cutting boards, serving trays, picture frames, wood-turned live-edge bowls and charcuterie boards quickly filled the range. 

Curt added to Twigg’s success with his Wood-Mizer. 

The sawmill’s ability to cut standard and outsized timber components for traditional and heavy dimensioned furniture items made it indispensable for the workshop’s success. 

Thick, live-edge slabbed timber and countertops with heavy beams that replace traditional concrete lintels and posts combine with elegantly styled furniture pieces to build Twigg’s range and popularity. 

The workshop’s rustic look also provided an ideal space for an exclusive wine and food tasting venue. Twigg’s charcuterie boards laden with meats, cheeses, fruits and preserves from Maria’s farm business and the surrounding farms draw eager palates and customers.

A deep Boston-style chair waiting for a sunny porch to contemplate life in.
A coffee table with thick, heavy dimensioned components cut on the Wood-Mizer. Rarely seen in retail, these items sell for a premium. The Wood-Mizer makes it easy to produce.


The future

Covid-19 hurt us badly,” MJ shares. “We went from a flourishing business to zero trading in a moment.”

The workshop shut down, and customers to the store dried up. They had to evolve, and they did so fast.

The digital arena is now Twigg’s new reality. The company’s ranges now sell online with Maria’s preserves and Curt’s custom sawmilling services.

But at the end of Covid-19, Twigg Furniture is standing firm.

The recent Bathurst show, the first after the pandemic’s end, saw Twigg Furniture country workshop space spilling over with people again. 

Wine, good food, timber and people were welcomed in a new beginning, free from the throes of the disease that kept everyone hostage for nearly two years. 

Turned mastery from Twigg Furniture
Curt and Maria Herbst’s log home on their Myrtle Grove’s farm. His Wood-Mizer LT40 produced a large of the sawn timber used to build the magnificent structure.


A final take

Change and forging new frontiers is not new for this hardy farming community. They come from a tradition of building and creating a new life and new beginnings where none previously existed. 

Bathurst and surrounds, including Twigg Furniture, will sprout again, and the deep soils of the area and the rich tradition of fortitude will build a new and exciting future.

Preserves from Maria’s farm business Myrtle’s Grove Artísan Preserves and picture frames in Twigg Furniture’s showroom.
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