Archive for cabinet-maker

Lotus Flower Pattern to a Sunburst Top

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2012 by johnwiggers

We have just completed a custom Ellipse II dining table that is due for delivery next week.

The massive 72″ diameter top was made as a one piece sunburst, using flat cut natural Walnut.

I especially love how the radiating grain pattern of the top looks so much like the petals of a Lotus flower.

Aquaria Console – Curly Birds Eye Maple

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by johnwiggers

This example of an Aquaria Console was recently sold to a private collector.

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Measuring 42-1/2″ long x 10-1/2″ wide x 29-1/8″ high the apron and legs were constructed of Chestnut Curly Maple and fitted together using mortise and tenon construction. The single drawer at the end was made of dovetailed solid Maple.

Without question the focal point of this console is the spectacular grain pattern on the top, which has been crafted from a rare sampling of Curly Birds Eye Maple veneer that was stained and polished to a high sheen.

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Maple is a common species of North American tree, and in rare instances some of these trees will yield unusual grain patterns such as Birds Eye or Curly. Experts are generally baffled as to why certain trees will exhibit this kind of graining, although the prevailing wisdom seems to be that some kind of disease or fungus is the cause.

In reality there are two differing conditions which cause these types of grain patterns to occur.

Curly (or Fiddleback) is the result of tree ring compression, and this most often occurs in trees that are exposed to winds which cause them to sway. This motion, in turn, causes ring compression on the side of the tree opposite the wind, and this manifests as a distinctive crossfire figure to the grain. It makes sense that this type of figure is usually found near the crotch and roots of a tree, since these areas are the ones which experience the most movement due to wind.

Birds Eye, on the other hand, is caused by stunted growth and two primary conditions must exist in order for this type of graining to occur. Namely, a Maple must be growing on the north-east slope of a hill and be closely surrounded by a dense cluster of other trees which compete with it for essential nutrients, moisture and sunlight.

About 15 years ago, during a visit to one of my vendors, I was shown an unusual log of Maple that had both Curly and Birds Eye grain patterns melded together. Although the graining looked spectacular my supplier felt bewildered as to how to sell the log, since it was too Curly to be sold as Birds Eye, and had too much Birds Eye to be sold as Curly.

Needless to say I bought the log without hesitation, since it was too unusual and beautiful to be left behind. Although I had no current project for which to use this wood, I decided to squirrel it away in my core stash of rare woods for use on a select pieces down the road.

To this day this log of Curly Birds Eye is the only example of this type of grain pattern I have ever seen.

It’s unlikely that a log of this calibre and scarcity will ever appear again.

Ruhlmann Dining Table

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodwork with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2012 by johnwiggers

The Ruhlmann Table is one of the oldest pieces in our furniture collection. Although it was designed and first prototyped in 1988, true credit for its inspiration must be given to Art Deco master Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann.


At the time we first made this table we were working with a New York based furniture designer by the name of Ron Seff.

Ron shared our love for Ruhlmann’s classic lines, and he specifically deserves credit for fine tuning the actual shape of the elliptically curved legs.

By no means is this design an attempt to copy anything ever created by Ruhlmann. In fact, any such effort could never amount to anything more than a copy of the original anyway. But given the influence it is only fair that Ruhlmann be acknowledged.

The dining table as shown measures 84″ long x 44″ wide x 29″ overall height. It is crafted from Curly English Sycamore, and inlaid with ebonized line details and medallions. The ebonized ends extend to receive 24″ leaves, making this table ideal for hosting large gatherings.

Custom sizes and shapes, as well as alternative woods and finishes, are readily available.

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.