Archive for cabinet-maker

A Late, Great Source for Silk Tassels

Posted in Artisanal, Canadian Woodworking, Furniture Making, Interior Design, Studio Furniture, Vintage, Woodwork with tags , , , , , on March 21, 2014 by johnwiggers

Images of our recently completed Aquaria Desk are due to be published in a magazine at some point later this year.

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One detail that we were looking to feature is this beautifully crafted silk tassel by Theodore Merwitz Textiles, Inc. of Chicago, Illinois.

The Merwitz company was founded in 1953 and is well regarded in the interior design trade for its ability to turn out elegant, one-of-a-kind trimmings using high quality yarns, Old-world looms and traditional hand-tying techniques. Amongst the many commissions that it has received over the years Merwitz was involved in the restoration of Carnegie Hall and they also supplied trimmings for various renovations at the White House.

Sadly, we have recently learned that Theodore Merwitz Textiles has closed it’s doors and is no more.

Our remaining inventory of vintage Merwitz tassels will be used judiciously on select upcoming projects, including a recently commissioned Diego Humidor for a cigar aficionado in Tennessee.

We’re now on Instagram

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Interior Design, Studio Furniture, Woodwork, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , on March 19, 2014 by johnwiggers

We’re now on Instagram!

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Please click on the link below to check out some of our work.

Instagram

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Stack Laminated Walnut Console

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Interior Design, Studio Furniture with tags , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2014 by johnwiggers

Sometimes we find design inspiration in places we least expect.

This winter has been one of the coldest we have had in several decades. Because of this frigid air most of the snow that has fallen has managed to stay loose and powdery, making it prone to drifting with even the slightest of wind. This has resulted in many snowdrifts being created, including some very unusual sculptural shapes.

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A few weeks ago I was walking outside when I noticed this formation over a raised garden bed. Right away I began to think about possible shapes for some stacked laminated designs I have been pondering for a while. Before long I was off to the lumberyard to buy the necessary Walnut.

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What you are looking at is roughly 100 board feet of 8/4 solid Walnut. This should be enough material to make a wall hung console and a table base.

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Kevin rough cuts the planks and prepares the edges for glue.

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Gluing the boards together.

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Planing the segments down to a consistent thickness.

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The boards ready to be marked for bandsaw.

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Aligning the templates to mark the boards.

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Marking the boards.

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Gluing the stacked layers together.

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The stack lamination in the bench vise, ready for shaping.

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Shaping with an angle grinder.

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Sanding the final shape.

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Applying the oil finish.

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Wiping down the finished console.

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Console shown mounted on wall.

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Corner detail, showing the layers of stacked lamination.

My Robocop Story – I’m Just the Installer

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodwork with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2014 by johnwiggers

My Robocop story is a funny one and it goes back to 1992, which was during a time of severe economic recession.

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Business was brutally slow and I was being hard pressed to find work to keep my shop going. Although few projects were happening at that time there was a wealthy real estate magnate building a large custom home in Toronto, and his project required a number of custom cabinets, furniture and built ins. Unfortunately all of this work had already been bid on, and won, by a kitchen cabinet shop that managed to convince the client that they could do high end custom work.

While this kitchen company was able to handle most of the straight forward cabinetry, they quickly found themselves in over their heads on some of the more complex pieces. At this point the interior designer in charge of the project contacted me to find a discrete resolution to the problem.

I was offered the opportunity to make the more complicated furniture pieces  under the condition that it was sold under the kitchen company’s name. The kitchen guys were to get full credit for my work. My name was not to appear on any of the paperwork, and if the client ever saw me and asked who I was my response was to be: “I’m just the installer”.

Although the scenario didn’t thrill me I was also well aware that my ego didn’t pay the bills. Therefore, I agreed to the terms because my shop needed the work.

The pieces were delivered and the client was thrilled, and here is where the story should end. In fact, this is where the story gets interesting.

Shortly after this project was completed I was in Toronto to attend a design show called IIDEX . A client of mine by the name of Monroe Sherman flew up from Miami to attend the show, and one night he and I went out for dinner with a mutual friend by the name of Bill Stolz. Bill was working IIDEX with the Canadian Consulate General out of Atlanta.

After dinner the three of us headed to a nightclub for cocktails, and ended up at what was then the hottest club in town. I cannot remember the name of the place, but it was located in an upscale neighbourhood called Yorkville. Although the place was about 3/4 full by the time we arrived, it was filling fast.

We had just ordered our first round of drinks when Bill recognized a couple of guys standing nearby. He motioned for them to come over, and soon we were standing as a group of 5 talking about whatever it is that guys talk about. About 10 minutes later more people enter the club, and amongst them was the famous actor Peter Weller – of Robocop fame – who showed up with one of his friends.

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It turns out that Weller’s friend knew one of Bill’s friends, so before long there were 7 of us standing in a circle, talking in the middle of the club. I wound up standing beside Weller, even though neither of us actually knew one another despite our four degrees of separation.

By this point the whole club was abuzz with the fact that the famous Peter Weller was in the house. Bear in mind that the movie “RoboCop”, and it’s sequel “RoboCop 2”, had both been huge hits at the box office in recent years. And because Weller was the star of both films, he was a widely recognized personality at the time.

But what happened next was hilarious.

With the club now jammed full of people and our group of seven now the focus of everyone’s attention, who else should walk in but the real estate magnate in whose home I had been installing furniture only the week before.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see his startled expression as he looked over and saw my familiar face. I could tell that he recognized me, but was unable to figure out who I was. It didn’t take long before the bulb of recognition went off over his head. Of course, now he was puzzled as to what the heck his cabinet installer was doing hanging out with the famous Peter Weller.

We finished our drinks and prepared to leave. As we left the club I smiled and nodded to the client as we headed out the door.

There was no need to say anything.

After all, I was just the installer.

Growth Redefined

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodwork with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2013 by johnwiggers

Over the past 46 years our custom furniture making business has typically grown in slow, incremental steps. Today for the first time in almost half a century we have made the conscious decision grow our business smaller, and I can honestly say that I am pleasantly surprised at how good it feels.

In 2001 we moved into a large shop in Port Perry, Ontario that measured almost 13,000 sq. ft. in size.

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The vast open space and high ceilings allowed us to create a magnificent facility that at its peak employed as many as 25 artisans working full time to build exquisitely crafted examples of fine quality wood furniture.
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Times change, however, and in recent years it has become apparent that in order to remain viable in a now globalized world of craft it is imperative to radically lower operating costs and overhead structures. With that in mind we purchased a small studio in a rural location and set about to radically restructure our business model.

Thankfully all of our machines were already fully paid for, so the key decisions to be made revolved around which machines we would keep vs. which ones had to go. Over a dozen machines were either given away or carted off as scrap because, quite frankly, there is such a glut of old, used machinery on the market today that the secondary market for them is all but non existent.

Our Holz-her edgebander and SCM sander were sold, but only because we didn’t have room for them in the new studio. It was sad to see them go, because in many ways they had become like old friends.

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Much of our inventory of vintage woods was crated and packed into containers, and moved to an offsite location for storage.

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The best machines we decided to keep, with the result being that our tool collection has now been pared down to roughly two dozen pieces of equipment, ranging from a vintage 1940s Beaver cast iron bandsaw to an old but still productive Thermwood 5-axis machining centre.

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There is no question that moving the machines into a smaller studio presented more than its share of challenges. But even when we only had inches of room to spare it was gratifying to be able to find a way to thread the proverbial needle with tons of heavy iron.
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As you can see we are now officially moved out of our old facility.
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Please note that our new address is:

Wiggers Custom Furniture Ltd.
P.O. Box 518
Beaverton, Ontario
L0K 1A0

705-426-9141

For the next few months it looks like we’ll be quite busy unpacking and setting up the new studio. Photo updates will follow at a later date.

Interior Woodwork for the Knight XV

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodwork with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2012 by johnwiggers

In my previous post I described some work we recently completed for the Knight XV – a vehicle considered by many to be the world’s most luxurious armoured SUV.

Because it is difficult to convey a sense of scale about how big the Knight actually is, I thought the following photo of a Knight standing with a Hummer would do the trick.

A current special order for a Knight is being fitted with luxurious interior details, and for this project we were also commissioned to complete a set of custom wood fascias, bezels and trim pieces that are to be inlaid into an all leather interior.

These pieces were crafted from quarter cut Zebrawood and encapsulated in a poured resin finish. After many hours of meticulous hand sanding these pieces were then polished to a mirror-like sheen.

Custom Key Box for the Knight XV

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodwork with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by johnwiggers

The Knight XV is widely regarded as the world’s most luxurious armoured SUV.

Hand crafted by Conquest Vehicles of Toronto, Ontario these massive machines are exquisitely appointed all the way down to the presentation boxes that are provided for the delivery of vehicle ignition keys.


These boxes are milled out of solid billets of high grade aluminum, with the inlaid rivets on the lid intended to emulate the rugged design of the Knight’s exterior.

We were recently commissioned by Conquest to line the interior of these boxes with custom leather insets.


These insets were vacuum formed out of black Tuscany leather with concave pockets shaped to receive the key.