Archive for Kevin Wiggers

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.

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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.

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.

The 1950s GE Toaster Still Works

Posted in Artisanal, Vintage with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2012 by johnwiggers

For Christmas last year my son Kevin received a vintage 1950s General Electric toaster as a gift from his grandmother.

It is the very same toaster I grew up with as a kid, and I was surprised to see it still around and in such great shape.

It still works perfectly; the chrome finish still glistens, and aside from a small chip in the Bakelite (from one of the many times me or one of my brothers knocked it to the floor) this thing looks good as new.

This is certainly a testament to how well things were once made.

I remain optimistic that an appreciation for this level of quality is going to come back to America.

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. !