Archive for low-VOC finish

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.

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.

Custom Furniture Sample Sale – San Francisco

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

Recently the showroom representing our work in San Francisco closed its doors due to the retirement of its owner, Enid Ford.

Enid’s former showroom manager Johanna Spilman has since decided to open her own showroom offering the same high standards of fine quality furnishings.

To help facilitate this move we are offering special pricing on the following three floor samples currently being showcased there.

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 a low-VOC high gloss.

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

This Atherton Chest has 3 drawers and measures 32″ wide x 19″ deep x 28-1/2″ high. It is crafted from a dark South American FSC certified wood known as Louro Preto. The finish is low-VOC high gloss and the handles and feet are satin stainless steel.

List price on this Atherton Chest is $10,295.00.

A custom version of the Kidney Shaped Desk is also on display in Johanna’s showroom, which was made from a spectacular flitch of reclaimed vintage Macassar Ebony veneer. The desk measures 75″ long x 35″ deep x 30″ oah. The top was made without the leather inset shown in the photo, so it has an all Macassar Ebony top surface finished in low-VOC high gloss. Three dovetailed drawers are fitted into the apron, with the center pencil drawer containing trays. The plinths below the Macassar Ebony legs are satin stainless steel.

List price of this custom Kidney Shaped Desk is $16,305.00.

For more information and specifics on discounts for these samples, please contact:

Johanna Spilman
Johanna Spilman Inc.
195 Rhode Island
San Francisco, California 94103

415-255-1777
415-255-2777 (f)

johanna@johannaspilman.com

Live Edge Dining Table

Posted in Artisanal, Furniture Making, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2011 by johnwiggers

Recently we were commissioned to make a live edge dining table for a custom residence in Muskoka, north of Toronto.

For those of you who do not know what it means, “live edge” is a style of furniture that was inspired by the late George Nakashima in the 1940s as an extension of the Arts and Crafts movement. The term is derived from the incorporation of the natural edge of a wood slab into the design of a piece of furniture.

For this particular project our client was looking for a dining table that would seat 14 people, and measure approximately 144″ long by 44″ wide. Black Walnut was the original wood of choice, but it soon became apparent that available walnut slabs were far from suitable for a table of this size.

As can be seen in the following images, walnut is notorious for having interior voids and rot – especially in older trees. In addition it is rare to find reasonably clean slabs in excess of 132″ in length. Therefore, walnut was deemed to be unsuitable for this particular project.

After a great deal of effort a magnificent slab of African Bubinga was finally procured.

Based on the width of the slab and the concentration of growth rings it is estimated that the tree yielding this slab was roughly 2 meters in diameter and over 300 years of age before it fell.

The live edge slab arrives in our shop.

The rough surface of the bark is still on the edge.

An air drill with nylon wheel was most effective for cleaning the edge.

Cutting the slab to length. This was a very challenging task, considering that this piece of lumber weighed almost 700 lbs and needed to be counterbalanced at the opposite end for stability.

The sanded top ready for finishing looked like the flight deck of an aircraft carrier.

Sanding the sealer coats and thoroughly inspecting the surface before final finish.

Applying the precatalyzed lacquer finish as a protective coat.

The steel legs arrive from the platers.

The unwrapped legs showing antique bronze finish. Given the extreme weight of the top we decided to fabricate the legs out of 1/2″ x 4″ cold rolled steel. Welded corner gussets were added for additional stability. Given the asymmetrical taper of the wood top the legs were made in proportional widths to maintain a visual balance.

Recessed holes in underside of legs to receive acrylic feet.

Inserting the acrylic feet.

Antique bronze legs ready for mounting.

The finished wood top, ready to receive legs.

Mounting the legs to the underside of the wood top.

The finished table.

Detail of live edge.

Another view of table.

Corner detail of wood top.

Road Trip Delivery of Eco-Furniture to Orlando, Florida

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2011 by johnwiggers

In an earlier post I described a road trip to Hollywood, Florida during which we delivered custom furniture to a luxury condominium at the Trump Hollywood. This trip reminded me of another project we delivered to Orlando, Florida in May of last year.

My son Kevin accompanied me on this delivery and along the way we took a few hours break to catch an MLB baseball game at Turner Field, between the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds.


Kevin is clearly looking forward to seeing the game.


After an 8 run 2nd inning by the Reds, including a grand slam by Joey Votto, it looked like the rout was on.


This guy is probably the most avid Braves fan around. He claims to have been to EVERY single Atlanta Braves home game (in the same seat at Turner Field) stretching back over 1000+ games. He’s also a walking encyclopedia on baseball facts and trivia.


Expect the unexpected. In the bottom of the 9th the Braves rallied back from a 9-3 deficit with 7 runs, including a walk-off grand slam by Brooks Conrad to win the game 10-9. The place went nuts. It turns out this was only the 24th time in MLB history that this has happened, so we truly witnessed some history in the making.


Kevin with the Braves superfan, moments after the incredible come-from-behind victory. (Incidentally, at the end of the 8th I told Kevin that we couldn’t leave yet because the Braves were going to come back and win via walk-off grand slam. Good call, Dad!)


The reason for the road trip: overseeing delivery of custom made eco-furniture to a home near Orlando, Florida. This bedroom furniture includes an Irenic Bed and Inamorata casegoods made of FSC certified wood (that is also NAUF and CARB2 compliant), non-UF glue and low-VOC water based finish that is doctor recommended even for those with chemical sensitivities. The mattress is made of natural latex. The finish on the furniture is glazed maple.


This natural cherry finished furniture is for the guest bedroom. Consisting of an Irenic Bed and Inamorata casegoods it is also made of FSC certified wood (that is also NAUF and CARB2 compliant), non-UF glue and low-VOC water based finish that is doctor recommended even for those with chemical sensitivities.


The custom Inamorata Boxer Chest is made of natural cherry with the drawer fronts being made of Curly Birds Eye Maple from my Core Stash. All drawer boxers are dovetailed solid maple (FSC certified) running on Blumotion self-closing linear ball bearing slides. The drawer pulls are satin nickel.


This set of 3 custom made Island Tables is made of Louro Preto. The inset of river stones on the Cayman Table has been covered with a custom tempered glass top, to keep the cat from using it as a litter box.


This Ellipse II Table has been custom made in bamboo. The top features a radiating sunburst pattern and the finish is a low-VOC water based urethane.

All in all I was highly impressed by the level of research the client put into this project to verify that every aspect of our work was as environmentally responsible as possible.


Celebrating a delivery gone well….fresh ingredients + stainless steel bowl + liquid nitrogen = best ice cream ever. This shameless plug is for a hidden gem called the Pure Magic Ice Cream company. It’s located in Kissimmee, Florida.


When your kid is too old for Disney World, the next best thing is a ‘ghetto ride’ in downtown Orlando.


‘The Boy’ is stoked.


With some time to ourselves we checked out a street festival in downtown Orlando. While walking around we stumbled into this custom chopper with its own built-in humidor and port bar. The chopper lured me inside the Corona Cigar Company, which turns out to be North America’s largest walk-in humidor…boasting an inventory of 2,000,000 +/- cigars. It turns out that we inadvertently discovered the cigar afficionado’s motherlode of Arturo Fuente’s, Hemingways, Ashtons, and Diamond Crowns.


The obligatory photo of me with the chopper.


The Diamond Crown Cigar Lounge. Stocked with pre-embargo Cuban cigars and Prohibition-era rum, not to mention ice cold beer. With the outside temperature hovering around 92 degrees it made sense to chill out with a beer and a stogie in air conditioned comfort. We returned later to catch game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Final although, unfortunately, the Magic failed to show to play the Celtics that night. It was an enjoyable experience nonetheless – downtown Orlando is definitely a happening place on a Saturday night.

Custom Furniture for a Ritz Carlton Hotel

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2011 by johnwiggers

The following images are of some custom furniture pieces we made for the public areas of a Ritz Carlton hotel.

This console measures 72″ long x 24″ deep x 33″ high. Crafted from Chestnut Pommelle Sapele the top has a reverse diamond match pattern. The sides are inlaid with natural maple. The finish is semi gloss low-VOC polyurethane.

This side table is made of Chestnut Ribbon Sapele with ebonized inlay details, and finished in semi gloss low-VOC polyurethane.

Several variations of these round tables were made for a cocktail lounge located in the lobby of the hotel. The plinth has a subtle tapering cone top surface which had a challenging sunburst grain pattern applied to the face. The hexagonal tapering cone pedestal conceals hidden metal rods which provide the necessary strength to support the 38″ diameter top.

Custom Writing Desk – (Part 6 of 6) – The Completed Desk

Posted in Artisanal, Canadian Woodworking, Furniture Making, Woodwork, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2011 by johnwiggers

With the finishing process now complete the desk can be assembled.

The completed desk is shown as follows:

Front view of desk.

Front corner detail.

Rear view of desk.

(I love this) detail of where the drawer meets apron.

Drawer open, showing dovetails.

Inlaid grommet in desk top.

After the desk was delivered I received the following testimonial from the client:

We just finished building a custom home and had been searching for the “perfect” desk for our new home office. We wanted something that was original in style, made to last a lifetime and not too large. It was impossible to find something ready-made that fit all of our criteria. We contacted John and within a few days he had prepared detailed drawings for us to consider. After some fine tuning, we quickly settled on our perfect desk. The desk is flawless and looks exactly as drawn, down to the last detail.