By: Kyle Stucker, from 5757 Palm Magazine
The simple design and pleasure of a joggling board hasn’t changed much in more than 200 years – perhaps a reason for their resurgence.
Decoration. Bench. Rocking chair. Trampoline. Even a device that mixes your cocktail in a way that would make James Bond proud. The elegant yet simple utility of joggling boards made them a quirky fixture on porches throughout the Lowcountry in the early 1800s, spreading like honeysuckle after Mary Kinloch Huger had one of the Scottish devices built at Acton Plantation to help with her rheumatism. The bench’s design – a long, pliable Southern yellow pine board atop two rocking legs – also made it popular with lovelorn beaus, as the bouncing and rocking gradually slid lounging couples toward each other. They almost became a historical footnote during World War II because of rising timber costs, but in recent decades, Charleston artisans have spurred new interest in this unequivocally Southern piece of furniture.
“There’s just nothing like them,” says craftsman Chris Outland, a former firefighter who started The Joggle Factory seven years ago, after he struggled to find a woodworker who would make him one. “My friends’ houses had joggling boards growing up, and I remember spending hours bouncing on them and seeing how close we could bend them to the ground.”
That kind of nostalgia, according to Outland, is fueling joggling boards’ comeback, with little changing in their design other than some new color choices. Nevertheless, his orders – including many from the West Coast, Europe, and even Australia – are still overwhelmingly in the customary dark Charleston green. “You can’t outdo a tradition,” says Outland, who builds close to 500 a year. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Just bend it.
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