Archive for cabinet-maker

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.

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 – 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.

Custom Furniture Sample Sale – Ovale Jewelry Chest

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

Depending on whether you’re American, British or Canadian the correct spelling of the following chest can be either Jewelry, Jewellry or Jewellery. That aside, the fact remains that every so often I’ll receive an inquiry to make a hand crafted Jewelry Chest. Usually this is intended as a gift for a special occasion such as a birthday, wedding anniversary, or Valentine’s Day.

Invariably the lead time to design and make one of these is less than a few weeks time, which means that it becomes near impossible to hand craft something exquisite in time to meet a deadline. That being said, I usually have to turn down these commissions due to the impossibly of doing high quality work in a short timeframe.

To remedy this I decided to build a custom Jewelry Chest on spec, so that I could have something readily available for the next time an inquiry like this came along.

The Ovale Jewelry Chest shown here measures 24-3/16″ wide x 18-3/8″ deep x 30-7/8″ high. Crafted from a rare sampling of Macassar Ebony the exterior shell of this cabinet has been vacuum formed into a elliptical oval shape.

The top has been seamlessly fitted to the interior and exterior contours of the elliptical oval shell, with the sculpted back apron cascading gracefully until it disappears into the horizontal plane of the top.

Note the subtle detail of how the grain pattern of the doors aligns perfectly with the grain of the top apron.

The doors on the front of the chest are secured with ball catches and a fully mortised privacy lock.

Five generous drawers are located inside the chest, with each gliding effortlessly on concealed ball bearing slides.

The two top drawers are each fitted with two layers of removable trays. Each tray has compartments for organizing miscellaneous items of jewelry.

The bottom of each drawer is lined with alligator embossed black leather, which was specially made by Spinneybeck .

The removable trays have been hand crafted from solid maple, and are felt lined on the underside.

Provision has been made for an engraved plate to be inlaid on the inside of the chest, which can be personalized with a special message.

List price on the Ovale Jewelry Chest is $13,000.00.

Special discounts are available during our Sample Sale.

Custom Furniture Sample Sale – Gentleman’s Valet Stand

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

In 2003 I was invited by The Guild Shop in Toronto to participate in their “Turning Traditions” exhibition. Wanting to build something new for this event I designed a custom valet stand specifically to meet the needs of today’s man.

This Gentleman’s Valet Stand measures 25″ wide x 25″ deep x 52-3/4″ high in the closed position. When the split shell opens the dimensions increase to 39″ wide x 26-3/4″ deep.

The exterior is crafted from a rare sampling of Curly Birds Eye Maple, which has been an integral part of my core stash of for many years. A purfling of Mahogany and Ebony is interwoven as inlay on all 4 sides, plus top.

The exterior finish is high gloss polyester.

The cabinet interior is crafted from quarter cut Makore, with 7 drawers stacked over a pair of lower doors.

The upper drawer is fitted with compartments for wrist watches, cuff links, billfolds and fountain pens.

The image inlaid into the top of the chest is that of a turtle, and its form was inspired by an ancient aboriginal rock glyph.

Turtles are symbolic of patience and protection.

List price for the Gentleman’s Valet Stand is $14,750.00

Special discounts are available during our Sample Sale.

Custom Furniture Sample Sale – Digitaria / Blue Star Credenza

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by johnwiggers

The Digitaria/Blue Star Credenza is a one-of-a-kind that began as an experiment to create a piece of furniture comprised almost exclusively of multi-dimensional surfaces and compound angles.

Measuring 72″ long x 22-1/2″ deep x 34-5/8″ high the exterior is crafted from FSC certified maple ply that has been finished satin black. The angular plinth base is sculpted from polished stainless steel.

The inset top is bevelled Black Glass.

The natural maple interior has adjustable shelves behind each of the end drawers, plus 4 solid maple dovetailed drawers behind the center door. The drawers each run on self closing Blumotion linear ball bearing slides which are activated by a pneumatic touch mechanism. In other words a slight touch is all it takes for each drawer to project open.

Inlays of Padauk and Amboyna in the finished back show the star Sirius and constellation Orion rising over a raised silhouette representing the Great Pyramids at Giza.

Given the extreme complexity involved in making this piece it will not be repeated again.

The List price of $22,915.00 includes custom crate for shipping.

Special discounts during our Sample Sale are available.

Custom Furniture Sample Sale – Ellipse II Tables

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by johnwiggers

This Ellipse II Table is without doubt one of our best selling designs. Measuring 84″ long x 42″ wide x 29″ high this table is crafted from a rare sampling of Nero Chaquiro, which comes from an FSC certified forest in Brazil. The top has a custom diamond matched grain pattern, and the finish is high gloss.

List price on this Ellipse II Table is $12,540.00.

An additional version of this table is also available for sale, in a different size and finish. In this case the table measures 90″ long x 44″ wide x 29″ ” high. The top has been made as a sunburst grain pattern, with both top and base finished in an Expresso mahogany satin open grain finish.

List price of this latter table is $10,995.00.

Finally we have a one-of-a-kind prototype version of the Ellipse II Table, which was customized as a Cocktail Table. Measuring 58-1/4″ long x 36″ wide x 16″ high this table has a diamond matched Chestnut Anigre top finished high gloss, and a tapered elliptical cone base that is wrapped in black Tuscany leather.

List price of this custom Ellipse II Cocktail Table is $4835.00.

Please call for special pricing during our Sample Sale

Ellipse II Table – The Story Behind Its Creation

Posted in Artisanal, FSC, Furniture Making, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by johnwiggers

In 2002 I began to experiment with ideas on how to bend wood across complex three dimensional planes. In the course of doing this I inadvertently created a tapered elliptical cone shape that, at first glance, looked ideal for a dining table base.

After building a prototype of the cone my next challenge was making the top. After heeding advice to “keep it simple” I settled on a pure elliptical oval shape with bookmatched grain and flat edge apron. A 1″ high stainless steel plinth was added to the underside of the base. The resulting table was finished in Tobacco Mahogany, and named the Ellipse Dining Table.

Although the resulting table looked OK, there was something about it that was just plain missing. What bothered me most was the finish – which was a basic chocolate/mocha/expresso brown. At the time this was a safe finish to use, because just about every professional in the interior design industry was using it in one form or another since it “went with everything”.

One could probably credit Holly Hunt and Christian Liaigre with first introducing this look to the high end of the market in the 1990s. By the early 2000s, however, the finish was everywhere and I soon realized that to be the main problem. Namely, because of the finish this table was looking like everything else out there – even the cheap dross knock-offs that were now beginning to flood the market by the containerload from offshore.

By 2006 I decided to refine the design with some subtle changes. I began by using a wood called Nero Chaquiro, which is a lesser known species that comes from an FSC certified forest in Brazil. In addition to being certified as sustainably harvested the use of this wood also helps support an indigenous community living along the banks of the Amazon River by providing a tangible incentive for the peoples living there to manage their surrounding forest responsibly.

The main structure of the table was crafted out of FSC certified ply, which was also NAUF and CARB2 compliant due to the fact that there were no added urea formaldehydes in the glues and binders. To minimize the heaviness of the top the grain pattern was changed to sunburst and the edge profile became a deep undercut bevel. The stainless steel plinth was removed in lieu of a small convex inlay of Narra being added as a subtle detail. The resulting table was finished in a low-VOC water based urethane, and renamed the Ellipse II Table.

Taken together these changes created a more sculptural look to the design, and the response from the design community was tremendously positive. Our ability to custom tailor this design to meet the requirements of each individual client has since resulted in the Ellipse II Table becoming one of our most popular offerings today.

In October 2008 a custom commission of this table for interior designer Wendy Blount was even published in an issue of Metropolitan Home magazine.

Thanks to the positive response this article received, the table photo was subsequently republished in the book “Glamour: Making it Modern” by Michael Lassell.

Sustainable, Environmental, Eco Lifestyles, Healthy, All Natural, Home and Garden, Interior Design, Eco Friendly, Green Furniture, Green Furnishings, Green Designs, FSC Certified, Reclaimed Materials. Organic, LEED compliant, NAUF. CARB2, Bamboo, Natural Fibers. Non-Toxic, low-VOC, Non VOC, Natural Finishes.