Archive for Macassar Ebony

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 – 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

Custom Commission – Kidney Shaped Desk

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

What follows is a series of photos of a recently completed custom commission for a Kidney Shaped Desk.

The inspiration behind the original design was explained in an earlier post.

Perhaps the most unusual feature of this particular desk is the incorporation of inlays made of copper, silver and 18K gold.

This post will begin with the inlays, which were crafted by local artisans Joe and Sonja Sanders of Jewellery by Sanders in Oshawa.

This is the initial walnut blank with recesses cut to receive the gold, copper and silver inlays. After the inlay work is complete this piece will become the lid of the box located inside the pencil drawer.

The gold and silver inlays were cast using a lost wax process. This image shows the mold and wax casting for the silver Turtle inlay.

The mold and wax casting for the Eagle inlay, which ended up being made of gold.

Benchwork on the Turtle inlay.

Benchwork on Eagle inlay.

Cleaning the casting of the Eagle inlay.

Polishing the Eagle inlay.

Handscraping the copper Tree inlay. Since it is not practical to cast copper, this inlay was made of bar stock that was seamlessly soldered together.

Preparing to fit the inlay into the wood.

After much polishing and finessing by hand, the final fit is achieved.

The wood lid can now be sanded in preparation for gluing the inlay into place.

A protective Lanolin finish is carefully applied by hand to the Black Walnut lid and sculpted inlay pieces that will function as finger pulls under the drawers.

The finished lid and finger pulls, ready to be fitted into desk.

Front view of the completed desk.

A closer view of the end detail of the desk.

Detail view of top, showing Macassar Ebony top apron and inset of black Tuscany leather.

Detail view of side drawer.

Pencil drawer – closed.

Pencil drawer – open.

Interior of pencil drawer, showing inlaid lid of Black Walnut. The trays on either side are made of Sassafras, which is a holistic wood traditionally known for its aromatherapeutic properties.

The box portion below the inlaid lid has been crafted from a wood called Hawthorn, which was known to ancient Greek herbalists and has been used in Ayurvedic practice for over 5,000 years.

Detail view of inlaid finger pull below one of the side drawers.

Kidney Shaped Desk at the “My Grain” Exhibition

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2011 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.

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 medicinal practice 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 is currently on display at The Guild Shop in Toronto, where it will be part of the “My Grain” Exhibition, which opens on Saturday July 16.

Custom Furniture for an Executive Office – Case Study (Part 15) – Accessories

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2011 by johnwiggers

On the custom office project for JLT I ended up becoming involved in many aspects of the interior design, from the creation of the furniture itself to the layout of the ceiling and lighting grid and, to a lesser degree, the selection of wall coverings, carpet and upholstered furniture from Herman Miller.

Admittedly, this participation on my part was motivated in part by my desire to create a thoroughly complete office environment that would help show off the actual furniture when it came time for photography.

My intense focus on the design of the furniture inadvertently spilled over into the creation of some accessories as well, specifically a wine stopper and an ice bucket for the scotch bar.

Given that JLT is an aficionado of fine wines I wanted to create a high quality stopper that would surpass the quality level of any other wine stopper currently on the market.

The stopper itself was milled from a solid billet of FDA food grade 304 stainless steel. Triple seals of FDA food grade nitrile were then inlaid into precision milled grooves. The handle portion was turned from a rare block of solid Macassar Ebony, which is one of the hardest woods in the world.

Sharp tools and considerable patience is required when working with woods such as Ebony. Because of its extreme density this wood must be slowly air dried, lest hairline cracks develop over time.

On this particular stopper the biggest challenge came from placing the inlay of a decorative cabachon into the end. A thin walled pocket was carefully turned with a parting tool to create the recess necessary to receive the inlay of fossilized coral.

The ice bucket ended up being the bigger undertaking, and I have to admit that I spent a great deal of time agonizing over the design.

In an earlier post I described the process of evaluating JLT’s office from a Feng Shui perspective. At the time it worked out that the proposed layout and design was conducive with 13 of the 14 recommended “DO’s” and “DON’T’s” for a balanced office from a Feng Shui perspective. The only element missing was a small aquarium containing a single Arowana fish.

As much as I aspired to achieve perfection with this project I wasn’t about to suggest something as contrived as plunking an aquarium in the middle of the office decor. But given that the Scotch Bar was already located in a most auspicious part of the office, and knowing that JLT also has a taste for single malt scotch and Grey Goose vodka, I came up with the idea of creating a functional ice bucket that could do double duty as a proverbial water feature. Instead of using a live fish I would substitute an image of an Arowana etched into the face of the glass.

Working with Eva Milinkovic of Tsunami Glassworks we selected a colour of blue that would not only become a symbolic representation of water but do so in a way that would also complement the colours found on a Grey Goose bottle.

The most difficult part was coming up with an image of an Arowana fish that was subtle enough not to be overpowering. I didn’t want this thing to look like it had Charlie the Tuna tattooed onto the side.

Once the concept was finalized I left it to Eva to work her magic with the glass.

It’s no surprise that I was quite pleased with the result.

Next: Custom Furniture for an Executive Office – Case Study (Part 16) – Final Photography

Custom Furniture for an Executive Office – Case Study (Part 3) – The Renovation Begins

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2011 by johnwiggers

In my previous post I described the initial site meeting with JLT to discuss the parameters of the furniture designs for his office.

Shortly after this meeting took place the actual renovation work began.

In the photo above you can see the aluminum studs in place for the extended wall section going in. The big screen television will back onto this wall.


JLT and I both agreed that the desk and credenza should be set into the far back corner of the space – between the windows. There is a funky piece of wall angle bridging that corner which seems to be hiding a conduit of some kind. This will be integrated into the final design so that it all but disappears from view.

At the opposite end of the space a private washroom (with shower) is being installed. To achieve this the concrete floors had to be cut to allow for the necessary plumbing to be brought in. To the right of this photo you can see a small niche space that has been created to house a built-in cabinet for storage. In addition to general storage this cabinet will also be the “brain centre” that holds all the electronics for audio, video and lighting control systems.

By this stage the overall dimension of the room were mostly determined, which made it possible to clarify the approximate size, location and shape of the desk, credenza, storage cabinet and motorized television cabinet. The inclusion of a Scotch Bar was not yet a certainty, since a suitable location for it had yet to be determined.

As the details of the furniture designs were being clarified, JLT worked with his interior designer to finalize the selection of carpet and wallpaper for the office. Based on these samples we narrowed our range of wood finish options to Chestnut Ribbon Sapele, Macassar Ebony, Madagascar Rosewood, Ipe and East Indian Rosewood.

Although JLT really liked the Chestnut Ribbon Sapele sample we showed him, I cautioned against it because of how the Chestnut stain would likely “bleed” into any inlays such as mother-of-pearl we might use. Macassar Ebony was deemed to be too dark, and the flitch sizes too small, to work successfully on large surfaces such as a desk top.

Madagascar Rosewood was rejected because the colour and grain texture simply didn’t work.

The Ipe looked magnificent, but I was concerned about a random “splotch” that appeared in the actual test samples we made. While this discolouration may have been a natural element of the wood itself, it would end up looking ugly if it appeared unexpectedly on the top of the desk. Therefore, I decided to err on the side of caution by insisting that we not use that species.

Of all the woods under consideration the East Indian Rosewood looked best of all. In its raw state it almost seemed too purple in colour, but once a finish was applied to the test panels a depth and richness appeared that worked perfectly with the carpet and wallpaper samples.

JLT concurred with this assessment, so based on his approval we decided to go with this for the furniture.

The design of the furniture was now starting to gel, and in my mind’s eye I could actually see what the finished office was going to look like.

We were now at the defining moment of the design of this space, and it is here that someone like JLT actually becomes a dream client for a studio furniture maker such as myself. Although he was always very clear on what he liked and disliked, JLT always managed to curb his veto power enough so it didn’t smother the creative process. In fact, it would be appropriate to say that he actually participates in the creative process enough so that collectively the ideas end up manifesting in a manner that was not only effortless but almost intuitive in some cases.

Although this last part is difficult to articulate, hopefully I can illustrate it better in the next post. That post will evaluate the resulting furniture designs and office layout from the standpoint of Feng Shui , which is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetic that is growing in popularity in North America and around the world.

Feng shui is ultimately about flow and balance, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the final design of the office melded almost perfectly with those principles – especially since very little conscious effort was made to do so.

Next: Custom Furniture for an Executive Office – Case Study (Part 4) – Applying Feng Shui to the Design.

Ovale Jewelry Chest

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 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 comes 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. 

Whale Tail Desk – The Story Behind its Creation

Posted in Artisanal, FSC, Furniture Making, Whale, Woodworking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2011 by johnwiggers

In the Autumn of 2001 my daughter was working on a school project that had to do with whales. Her writings contained all the standard textbook information available on these creatures, i.e. “whales are the world’s largest mammals; they live in the sea; they eat fish or plankton, and they are endangered.”

After reading her project to me, she asked what I knew about whales. I told her that in the St. Lawrence River (which lies between Canada and the United States) when a dead whale washes ashore it’s carcass is so contaminated with pollutants that it has to be handled and disposed of as toxic waste. Needless to say, her eyes went wide as saucers and her whale project evolved along a whole new tangent.

That conversation made me wonder about what it is that our schools are teaching our children. Or, rather, what it is that our schools are not teaching.

My daughter and I ended up talking a great deal about whales, and out of those discussions came a promise that the following summer we would take a trip out east to see some real whales, up close and in the wild.

Not long after this discussion I received an invitation from World Wildlife Fund to build a showcase exhibit for the inaugural “Forest Leadership Forum” to be held in Atlanta, Georgia in April, 2002. Given that the show was focussed on protecting the world’s forests, I was challenged to come up with a cool idea for a piece of furniture made of FSC certified wood.

For several months I vascillated with the idea of whether or not to even participate in the show. The events of 9/11 were still very much fresh in my mind, and the thought of flying anywhere wasn’t holding much appeal for me.

By early 2002 I was still undecided on what to do, but now I was facing a deadline. I was stuck with the furniture designer’s equivalent to writer’s block. Nothing clever was manifesting in the way of ideas, although I had concluded that my furniture piece should be a desk of some kind.

Then one night I’m watching television and there’s a program on about saving whales, and I see the actor Pierce Brosnan speaking on behalf of the whales.

I was already familiar with Brosnan because at that time he was also a spokesperson for FSC.

The connection of Brosnan to both whales and FSC suddenly melded with my idea for a desk, and everything came together in a flash: FSC + Whale + Desk.

Grabbing a pencil and a thin piece of cardboard I scribbled out a quick rendering of a desk based on what a whale’s tail would look as it breeched in preparation for a deep dive. Cutting this out with scissors I then Scotch taped the pieces together into a crude scale model. The result was an actual miniature prototype, and the whole process probably took no more 15 minutes to do.

This model was then scaled into working drawings, and the woodworking process began. The main face of the torso and tail started as an oversized T-shape slab of 1-1/4″ veneer core ply that was cross laminated with Macassar Ebony veneer. Relief kerfs were cut into the underside for bending the curve. Plywood offcuts were used to make elongated L-shaped vertical gables, with the 1″ ply floor set into dadoes.

An anthracite grommet was inset into the top, to allow wiring to pass through to the vertebrae wire management column running vertically inside the torso of the desk. For stability the desk was engineered to be secured to the floor with lag bolts.

After a thorough sanding the exposed surfaces were finished in a high gloss low-VOC polyester finish to enhance the grain and give a glossy “wet look” to emulate a whale rising from the water.

The finished Whale Tail Desk was displayed at the “Forest Leadership Forum” in late April, 2002 along with a custom made Andiroba Credenza crafted from the same wood and finish. These pieces are both now part of a private collection in Moscow.

A few months later our family travelled east to New Brunswick and took a long ferry ride to a remote island called Grand Manan, which lies just off the coast of Maine. We arrived on the island on August 6th and had advance reservations to go on a whale watching tour the following morning.

As we travelled around the island I soon learned from the locals that whale watching was not an exact science. Even in optimal summertime conditions such tours are highly dependent on the weather, the seas and the fog. I was told that in the previous 2 weeks hardly any tours had managed to make it out to sea because of heavy fog. And even when boats did make it out, there was no certainty of even seeing a whale – let alone seeing one up close.

I now felt concern that expectations for the trip might not unfold as planned. We had a wedding to attend in a couple of days, and our only opportunity to see whales would be the following morning. My daughter in particular was excited at the prospect of seeing a whale, and I did not wish to see her disappointed.

That night I took a walk to a small rise of land overlooking the sea. I prayed for good weather and silently called out into the darkness – asking for a whale to make an appearance the following day.

We arose before dawn and made our way to the harbour where a small converted lobster boat took us into the Bay of Fundy, to an area where whales traditionally feed. Luckily for us, the weather, the fog and the seas were all working in our favour, and conditions were nearly perfect.

After a bitterly cold 2 hour ride, the boat’s captain spotted a pod of 6 or 8 whales on the horizon. He slowly eased to within about 1/2 mile of where these whales were, and shut off his engine. Now we had to wait, with cameras ready, scanning the horizon in anticipation of the whales coming to the surface. We didn’t know when, or where, these creatures might appear.

For the next 20 minutes we enjoyed sporadic sightings of whales in the distance. These massive creatures would suddenly and unexpectedly emerge from the depths, then crash back into the sea with huge plumes of water and spray. Everyone was crowded to the starboard side of the boat, methodically snapping off frame after frame of film.

Given the unpredictability of the whales appearing on the horizon, I was snapping through an incredible amount of film in the vain hope that one of these shots might yield an incredible photo. At one point I stepped back from the group to change film when the most amazing and magical thing happened. Unbeknownst to any of us a huge Humpback Whale had quietly surfaced behind the boat. This whale didn’t make a noise, and not one of us even noticed he was there.

As I busied myself with changing my film an odd feeling suddenly came over me. Casting a slow sidelong glance over the stern I found myself looking – no more than 10 feet away – right into one of eyes of this massive creature. In one brief moment I felt the whale say to me, as if telepathically, “you asked for me to appear. Here I am.” Needless to say, as soon as I announced the whale’s presence behind our boat everyone stampeded to the back for a better look.

The feeling of being small and powerless was overwhelming. Humpbacks can grow to a size of 40 tons, and if he wanted to this whale could easily have flipped our boat like a cork in the water. But this was not how things unfolded.

It was as if this whale had been waiting for us to show up, and he was floating patiently in the water until he was sure he had our undivided attention.

He slowly raised the top of his bumpy head out of the water, as if to confirm with his own ancient eyes that we were all watching. He then exhaled a huge, bushy spout of misty air with a sound not unlike that of an elephant’s trumpet. And let me tell you, after a lifetime of eating seafood that fellow could definitely have used a breath mint. Children were giggling at how bad his breath smelled.

But the best was yet to come, and the only way to describe it would be to say that this whale grabbed this moment to, literally, seize the proverbial stage and ham it up for our cameras.

It was a most amazing few minutes of time, during which this wild mammal – of its own accord – decided to approach our boat in a manner that gave us both the time and the angles necessary to take some absolutely phenomenal photographs. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this whale was probably posing for some of the shots.

On our long ride back to the harbour I considered what might have motivated such an untamed creature to behave in this manner. I know that whales are highly intelligent, so on some instinctual level this individual would probably know that the greatest threats to its survival (i.e. pollution, collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing nets, and slaughter by commercial industry) all come from humans.

In spite of this, this whale took incredible risk to reach out and connect with us.

Perhaps, deep down, it was because this whale also realises that as much power as Man has to destroy, Man also has the power to change – and to protect. And maybe through connecting with us, this whale is also trying to secure his own future survival by sharing with us that feeling of oneness with him.

It would be easy to dismiss this magical moment was an isolated incident, a coincidence, or a figment of my imagination. But I do not believe this to be the case.

When we arrived on Grand Manan the day before, there was a story circulating amongst the locals about a Humpback Whale and her calf which had become entangled in fishing nets earlier in the week. Such entanglement is a guarantee of certain death for a whale, especially calves. To the amazement of the locals these two wild mammals instinctively swam right up to a research vessel and waited patiently on the surface of the water while deckhands used knives to cut away the netting. Somehow these whales intuitively knew what they needed to do in order to survive.

Life finds a way, and we should never underestimate the magic at work in Nature.

The natural world is clearly speaking to us. But the question is: Are we listening?

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.

Custom Writing Desk – (Part 5 of 6) – Finishing the Desk

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

Most woodworkers will tell you that the most tedious part of the furniture making process is the hours of final sanding required to prepare the wood for finishing.

In my mind this stage is actually quite exciting, because it helps me to anticipate more clearly what the finished piece will look like.

In the previous post the solid cherry received multiple coats of a vinegar and iron solution, which is the traditional way of ebonizing wood to a darker colour.


A black toner is then applied to ebonize the darker areas more consistently.


At this stage I am extremely pleased with the decision to add the beading details to the aprons and drawer fronts.

The Macassar Ebony looks incredible!

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