Archive for cabinetmaker

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.

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).

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.