Archive for January, 2012

Custom Woodwork in the Bentley Mulsanne

Posted in Artisanal, Woodwork with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by johnwiggers

In 2010 Bentley Motors reintroduced the luxury Mulsanne to their collection.

The interior of each Mulsanne has a total of 33 hand crafted panels of Walnut Burl veneer that have each been exquisitely fitted into place.

It takes an average of 7 hours to craft each panel, largely because Bentley’s quality standards are such that the grain pattern of the entire car is perfectly center matched. In other words, the grain pattern on the door panel on the left side of the car will be the exact mirror opposite to the corresponding panel on the right.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the following video is the way in which Bentley has integrated advanced manufacturing technologies (i.e. CNC and laser) with many traditional Old World techniques of hand craftsmanship.

In many ways this emulates what Philippe Dufour is also doing with respect to his hand crafted watches, although in Dufour‘s case he limits his use of technology to the CAD (computer aided design) end of the spectrum.

Please enjoy the following video:

Ultimate Factories – BENTLEY MULSANNE – by National Geographic TV. from Colaps T on Vimeo.

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Delta Rose Console

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodwork with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by johnwiggers

J. Wade Beam is one of America’s most iconic furniture designers.

After several years working at the legendary Dunbar Furniture Company of Berne, Indiana Wade became Design Director and VP of Sales and Marketing at Brueton Industries Inc. of New York.

It was during this time we worked with Wade to develop many new products for the Brueton collection, including the Virginian Credenza show here.


The elliptical shape of the plywood bend on the Virginian was extremely difficult to achieve, but our success with the final result made this credenza a favorite of all the custom furniture pieces we have ever made.

Following completion of his tenure at Brueton in the mid 1990s, Wade began to dabble with other experimental designs. One of them was a wall hung console he called the Delta Rose.


Measuring 84″ long x 18″ deep x 36″ high this console was extremely angular in form, with high polished Ribbon Sapele ends flanking a triangular gold leaf center wedge.

Although called the Delta Rose, this console became unofficially known as the “Klingon Warship” in our shop. (Star Trek fans might see the humour here).

Three of a Kind?

Posted in Artisanal, Canadian Woodworking, Furniture Making, Woodwork with tags , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by johnwiggers

About a year ago I received an urgent email from a freelance writer who claimed to be on a deadline to submit a design article to Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper. She was keenly interested in my Bow Tie pedestal table, so I quickly sent her specifications, pricing and high resolution images.

It was only after the article was published that I realized what it really was. Called “Three of a Kind“, the article was one of an ongoing series of abbreviated sound bytes which take 3 similar looking pieces of furniture to compare them – primarily on the basis of price.

One previous article compared a $2560.00 Le Corbusier club chair to a $499.00 POS from Ikea. What was the main point of comparison between the two? Both were chairs covered in blue fabric.

A solid birch 3 legged table by Tom Dixon was ambushed in a similar fashion when compared to repackaged landfill offerings from Ikea and West Elm.

What I find unfair about this kind of homogenized design pseudo-journalism is that it doesn’t properly compare apples to apples. For example, my Bow Tie table is a hand made one-of-a-kind piece that is crafted from FSC and NAUF certified woods, non-UF glue and low VOC finish. The top has a hand cut diamond matched inlay pattern, with additional inlays in the collar and plinth made of traditional holistic woods such as Black Walnut and Narra. It’s no surprise that this table ended up being the priciest of the three shown.

The cheapest of the tables was a variation of a block stool that is imported by the containerload from some place in Africa. The table at the intermediate price point is a similar looking piece of mass production that is also imported by the containerload, only in this case from a factory run by Gus* Modern in China.

In the grand scheme of things this “Three of a Kind” concept of literary penmanship isn’t all that difficult to emulate, as I’ll demonstrate here with the following 3 examples of cars.



Please study these images carefully. One is of a finely engineered $2900.00 precision instrument manufactured by Tata Motors of India. At the middle price point we have a Buick Regal by General Motors, which has a base price of $27,000.00. (It’s unclear from the photo whether this particular Regal has been manufactured in North America, or at one of the new GM factories recently built in China). Finally we have a Maybach 57S Coupe that has been customized by Xenatec of Germany to the tune of $1,000,000.00.

Can you tell them apart, even though all 3 of these cars share seemingly identical silvery paint finishes?

Florence Side Table

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by johnwiggers

Recently we were commissioned by Shaver/Melahn Studios to make a custom version of their Florence Side Table.

The standard table (shown above) was designed by Rick Shaver and is made from Cerused Natural Quartersawn Oak. It is typically available in either 26″ or 42″ diameters.

The custom table (shown below) measures 36″ dia. x 29″ high.

Crafted from Cerused Chocolate Quartersawn Oak the top of this table has a 3-way reverse diamond matched grain pattern and solid quartersawn oak edges with undercut bevel. The concave 3 sided pedestal rests on a triangular plinth base.

After wrapping in tissue and foam the completed table is placed in a protective crate.

The crated table ready for shipping.

Custom Furniture Sample Sale – Cocktail Tables

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2012 by johnwiggers

The Levee Cocktail Table is one of the very first furniture pieces designed by Kevin, and several examples in different wood finishes are available during our sample sale.

This Levee Table above is crafted from a wood called Black Bean and measures 54″ long x 21″ deep x 16-1/2″ high. Different sizes and shapes are available for the glass top, which rests on satin stainless steel offsets. The plinth is satin black. Numbered 2010-#001 this table has a List price of $3,295.00.

This Levee Table above is crafted from a wood called Bleached Zebrawood and measures 54″ long x 21″ deep x 16-1/4″ high. Different sizes and shapes are available for the glass top, which rests on satin stainless steel offsets. The plinth is satin black. Numbered 2010-#009 this table has a List price of $3,295.00.

This Levee Table above is crafted from natural Zebrawood and measures 54″ long x 21″ deep x 16-1/4″ high. Different sizes and shapes are available for the glass top, which rests on satin stainless steel offsets. The plinth is satin black. Numbered 2010-#010 this table has a List price of $3,295.00.

This Levee Table above is crafted from Figured Mahogany and measures 54″ long x 21″ deep x 16-1/4″ high. Different sizes and shapes are available for the glass top, which rests on satin stainless steel offsets. The plinth is satin black. Numbered 2010-#003 this table has a List price of $3,295.00.

This Levee Table above is crafted from a wood called East Indian Laurel and measures 54″ long x 21″ deep x 16-1/4″ high. Different sizes and shapes are available for the glass top, which rests on satin stainless steel offsets. The plinth is satin black. Numbered 2010-#005 this table has a List price of $3,295.00.

This Levee Table above is crafted from a wood called Etimoe and measures 54″ long x 21″ deep x 16-1/4″ high. Different sizes and shapes are available for the glass top, which rests on satin stainless steel offsets. The plinth is satin black. Numbered 2010-#004 this table has a List price of $3,295.00.

In tandem with designing the Levee Cocktail Table shown above Kevin also created the Channel Cocktail Table in 2009.

The Channel Cocktail Table measures 54″ long x 21″ wide x 16″ overall height. The main body of the table is crafted from a rare sampling of quartered English Oak veneer, which was sourced from my core stash of vintage woods.

The tempered glass top was set on offsets of satin stainless steel which were meticulously inlaid into the concave curve of the pedestal top.

This table was originally showcased at the Studio North exhibition during the 2010 Interior Design Show (IDS10), which was also the first exhibition of Kevin‘s work.

It is numbered 2009-#002 and has a List price of $4,175.00.

The Portage Cocktail Table is the third of three custom cocktail tables that Kevin designed in the summer of 2009. This particular piece ended up as a variation of the Channel Cocktail Table design, plus it included the added feature of a drawer for storage.

Measuring 54″ long x 21″ wide x 16″ oah this Portage Cocktail Table is crafted from a rare sampling of East Indian Laurel, which was sourced from my core stash of rare and vintage woods. The main body was set on a satin black lacquer plinth, with stainless steel offsets carefully inlaid into the top of the pedestal to support a tempered glass top.

Inset into the side of the table is a drawer for storage, with the drawer box itself being crafted out of dovetailed solid maple.

This Portage Cocktail Table is numbered 2009-#003, and is currently on display at the Industrial Storm showroom in Toronto.

List price is $4,875.00.

In 2005 a conversation with furniture designer Jill Salisbury inspired me to look deeper into the idea of incorporating Biomimicry to some of my furniture designs.

What is Biomimicry?

Biomimicry is the examination of Nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate.

Before long I came up with the idea of making a cocktail table comprised of the 6-sided hexagonal walls of a common honeycomb. Several years later this exercise resulted in a working prototype that became known as the Honeycomb Cocktail Table. The example shown here is the original table crafted out of Chestnut Ribbon Sapele.

Measuring 45″ x 45″ x 16″ overall height this table is comprised of 7 individual hexagonal modules, with the center unit being solid and the 6 surrounding ones each having 4 closed sides and 2 open ones, with a single adjustable shelf suspended inside each.

This Honeycomb Cocktail Table has a List price of $3950.00

Landis Coffee Table 44`x 21`x 16-3/4` high in Bleached Zebrawood.

Landis Coffee Table 44`x 21`x 16-3/4` high in East Indian Laurel.

Landis Coffee Table 44`x 21`x 16-3/4` high in Bamboo.

Landis Coffee Table 44`x 21`x 16-3/4` high in Louro Preto.

Landis Coffee Table 44`x 21`x 16-3/4` high in Macassar Ebony.

Measuring 44″ long x 21″ wide x 16-3/4″ high these Landis Coffee Tables features an elliptical oval top with a deep undercut bevel running completely around the perimeter of the edge.

The stainless steel legs are able to be removed for shipping, and this design can easily be customized into different sizes and shapes.

Crafted from FSC certified wood, non-UF glue and low-VOC waterbased finish this design has been described by Johanna Spilman of Johanna Spilman Inc. in San Francisco as “an excellent representation of modern 50’s design with a 21st Century twist.”

These Landis Tables each have a List price of $1125.00.

Special discounts are available during our sample sale.

Happy Birthday, Wiggers Custom Furniture Ltd.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 13, 2012 by johnwiggers

Wiggers Custom Furniture Ltd. turns 45-years-old today.

The company was founded on January 13, 1967 by my parents Ann and Johan Wiggers. Just like today that day also happened to be a Friday the 13th.

Although some consider Friday the 13th to be unlucky, I guess it doesn’t work that way for everyone.

When I was very small I spent a great deal of time playing on my father’s workbench, while he was still working out of the basement of his home.

The first actual workshop wasn’t built until 1968. (Notice the Ford Econoline van parked on the side. Years later that was the first vehicle I learned to drive, complete with standard transmission and three-on-the-tree.)


This is the shop today. It is now approx. 12,000 sq. ft. in size, but still has a number of original tools and machines being used each day.

Although he’s now retired my father keeps himself active which, in turn, keeps him young.

This coming year will also mark my 31st year as a full time furniture maker, and I am amazed at how quickly the time has flown. (I know that it’s a cliche to say that, but it’s true).

My son Kevin is now working with me as well.

Although he’s only 21-years-old he’s already far more skilled and experienced than I was at the same age. What parent wouldn’t be happy to admit that?

It’s great having my father around to teach Kevin things like wood turning and marquetry. Kevin is patient and shows great respect listening to his grandfather.

As an interesting historical footnote it was also 45 years ago today that Time Magazine published the following cover:

Times have certainly changed, because in recent years China has transformed from being an agrarian Communist society into what is now a manufacturing juggernaut – becoming so wealthy in the process that it is now the holder of millions of jobs and trillions of dollars formerly earned in the West.

This certainly wasn’t the playing field that confronted my father and grandfather during their respective eras. Then again, they had Great Depressions and World Wars to deal with. Regardless, I remain hopeful that we as a small business can continue to find ways to navigate forward during these uncertain times.

In the meantime Happy Birthday, Wiggers Custom Furniture Ltd. !

Custom Furniture Sample Sale – Kidney Shaped Desk

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2012 by johnwiggers

This Kidney Shaped Desk measures 75″ long x 35″ wide x 29″ high.

It has been crafted from FSC certified Ebony which has been hand cut to create a radiating pattern around an FSC certified plywood core.

The glue used to apply the Ebony is non-UF (urea formaldehyde), and the finish is low-VOC polyurethane.

The inset top has a subtle bevel edge, and is clad in black Tuscany leather.

The plinth feet are satin stainless steel.

A total of 3 drawers have been built into the apron, with each one being made from solid Cherry and fitted using sliding dovetail joinery.

In addition to using FSC certified woods to build the main body of the desk, several lesser known species of wood have also been incorporated into the design to communicate a more comprehensive story about sustainable wood use.

In the very centre of the pencil drawer a small compartment has been carved into a block of rare wood known as Hawthorn. Hawthorn is a traditional healing wood that has been used in holistic healing practices for a considerable period of time. It was well known to the ancient Greek herbalists, and records indicate that it has been used in Ayurvedic medicine dating back almost 5,000 years.

Hawthorn is considered an aroma-therapeutic healing wood since it produces an aerosol of complex compounds – all of which are medicinal. The primary benefit of the aroma-therapeutic properties of the Hawthorn is to help alleviate stress and strengthen the heart.

On either side of the Hawthorn compartment is a pair of pencil trays made of a wood called Sassafras. Sassafras carries within it oil based complex of compounds that are naturally saturated within the wood itself – both as a wax and as oil. Through handling and the bumping action of contents against the fibers of this wood, the oils contained within this wood are released as an aerosol each time the drawer is opened.

This aerosol is considered to be a tonic to the human body, since it helps to promote an overall feeling of well-being. This state increases the ability of the deep centers of the brain to promote increased and clearer thinking.

The oil of the Sassafras is related to Myrrh, one of the legendary woods of the ancient world. Sassafras is also the wood used for spiritual cleansing by many tribes of North American Indians, in their traditional sweat lodge ceremony.

On the underside of the drawer fronts are inlaid finger pulls that have been crafted from wood that comes from the Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) family of trees. Native American medicine women discovered through many generations of trial, error and observation that this wood has medicinal properties that are useful in the prevention and treatment of disease. It is believed that simply touching this wood will release the active molecules to the surface of one’s skin, where they can be naturally absorbed into the pores.

In recent years a scientific basis has been discovered that supports this traditional wisdom, and the active molecules (known scientifically as ellagitannins) are currently at the leading edge of research into finding a cure for cancer.

Please note that the inclusion of traditional holistic woods such as Hawthorn, Sassafras and Black Walnut into the design of this desk does not promise any particular holistic or therapeutic benefit to the user. This information has been shared to give others a broader understanding and appreciation for trees, by helping to see them as being more than mere sources of raw material.

Additional information on the Kidney Shaped Desk, and the story behind its creation, can be found at the following link. This link also gives background information on a botanist and scientist by the name of Diana Beresford-Kroeger, who played an instrumental role in providing the information for the holistic woods used on this desk.

This Kidney Shaped Desk was most recently on display at The Guild Shop in Toronto, where it was part of the “My Grain” Exhibition, which ran during July and August, 2011.

List price on this custom version of the Kidney Shaped Desk is $15,060.00.

Special discounts are available during our Sample Sale.