Wood is pretty amazing. It's versatile, organic, sustainable in most cases, and it retains it's life beyond it's living years as a tree. It has the ability to reconnect us with the qualities that make us human. It scars, and bleeds, it can be transformed and polished. It's something real. A piece of wood possesses a depth and a history that allows us to consider more deeply the world we live in. This is a collection of some of my more recent projects. Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Vancouver, Canada
Another Couple of Cutting Boards
Red Oak, and Black Walnut end grain.
This client has a gorgeous (and rather massive) log home on 110 acres of land, forested with first and second growth cedar, hemlock, spruce, alder and pine.
Since most of the construction and finishing in the home was done with wood cut and milled from the site, it made sense to use wood from the site for her kitchen stools as well.
The only stipulation she had was that I don’t make them square. She was sick to death of right angles. The obvious solution would have been to therefore make them round, but that didn’t feel quite right either. Down at the beach (yes, it’s waterfront property… sigh) lay a plethora of driftwood that had washed up over the years. This was the inspiration for the shapes of the seats. Each is unique, organic, yet maintaining some geometry to provide just that hint of organized thought. The pattern in each top allows them to nest in an approximate fashion with its neighbour, creating a sense of unity among the trio.
Cedar tops with Ash legs.
Walnut Dining Table
This was the table I completed a few months back, finally photographed in its new home. A few months after it was delivered, I received a call from the client saying that the table was warping. Indeed it was. As the moisture left the wood, the table top was shrinking and cupping - curling up on itself. The forces at work were incredible. The skirting at the ends of the table (visible in a few of the shots) is 1 1/2” x 2 1/2” solid walnut. These skirts had actually bent almost an inch as they followed the table top. Kudos to Weldbond wood glue. I’m simply amazed there wasn’t an explosion one night in their kitchen as something finally gave under the stress.
Anyway, I took it back to my shop and over a couple of weeks, slowly bent the table back to flat, then inserted six separate steel braces into the underside of the table. If it bends again, they have some lovely walnut firewood for next winter.
This was another solution for a small apartment. The client had sort of an open concept kitchen leading into the livingroom. Inevitably, when cooking dinner for friends or having people over, she would be tied to the kitchen counter, and her guests would be standing around. Eventually though we fatigue, and would go to sit down in the other room. This sawhorse idea provides that perfect “lean-yer-butt-right-there” solution. Because it has a small footprint, it doesn’t eat up much space in the apartment when not in use. But it seats 2 or 3 people at the same time. When not under a butt, it makes for a small shelf.
Made from solid Alder.
Walnut Coffee Table
Just like I said, walnut coffee table. No need to over explain that one I guess.
Charlie is now 15 months and rabid to explore and absorb as much as he can. He’s learning how to dig, fill containers, transfer and dump. Then, of course, you put a pinecone in your mouth. Built him this natural “sandbox” play area using locally sourced boulders, sand and gravel, and indigenous trees and plants. Here he will be exposed to the brilliant greens of spring, feel the cool provided by the foliage in summer and breathe in the sweet musk smells as autumn takes hold. I think it’s sort of providing him an education, without the lecture. The back section in the corner is pea gravel about 14” deep, the fore section is essentially beach sand, about 12” deep. The vine maples should be doing well by next year to provide more shade from the midday sun. The other, larger maple at the back was planted for Charlie when he was born.
And when he’s 10 or 11, and is more interested in throwing rocks at buses, or brooding over some girl in class - the “sandbox” can be planted with more, so other things can grow up where he did.
Quick shots of the finished benches to go with the walnut dining table. Unfortunately, still haven’t been able to shoot the two benches with the table in their new home.
The benches measure each 12” x 70” x 18”.
Sneak peek at the table
The table is finally done. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I used Osmo Poly-x Oil on it and couldn’t be happier with the final finish. Unlike a poly finish, it still feels like wood. I had to retouch a couple of glue marks and it was as easy as spot sanding and a quick wipe with the finish. More to come when the table is in it’s new home.
Benches - Dovetailing the tenons
I’m cutting a nice dovetail at each end of the under-mounted support rails for the benches. This will keep the leg pieces nice and snug and add a nice touch of end grain on the finished piece to match the table.
60/100/150/220/320 grits respectively.
Though sanding is really an awful job, there is something sort of special about spending that kind of time going over every square inch of the piece with your hands and fingers. You really get to know the piece in an intimate kind of way - every single edge (68 different edges on this table), each corner, every little bump, dip and union between two pieces of wood. Sounds weird perhaps, but let’s make it weirder than it needs to be. Agreed? Now that the final sanding is done, I’ll get onto final finshing.
Despite my aversion to clamped up work images I threw these in as they represent the last stage in construction of the table. The legs have been mounted and I’ve added the rails to the side - or rather reattached. There are two ways of going about attaching the legs on a table like this - one you would expertly notch out from the table top the appropriate cavity for the legs to sit. Makes sense, but the thought of an imperfect cut at this stage made me want to barf. So, before gluing up the top, I ran the two edge pieces through the table saw to remove a strip from each, just the same thickness of the legs. (In this case 1 1/4”) Then after the legs were glued in place, I glued the removed strips back in place. Next step, choking on airborne dust for a few hours. Can’t wait.
I selected four beautiful shorts for the legs. Because the end grain on the legs will be flush with the table top, they were selected not only for their face grain, but pleasing end grain characteristics as well. Using a dowel drilling jig, which keeps your hand drill positioned relatively close to 90º, I first drilled out the 3/8” holes on the legs. Then using the handy little marking pins, I was able to perfectly position the dowel holes in the side of the table. A dry fit to make sure everything lines up and it’s time to start gluing.
Gluing Up The Top
Getting the top glued up is always an exciting step of the process. It’s the first real glimpse of the table that will be born of all these individual boards you’ve been sorting, cutting, planing to size, and straightening. Each individual board is flipped, turned, and rearranged to find which of it’s potential neighbours it will look best against. The first shot shows the boards positioned in order, and the last the glued up top with the clamps removed. (Have a slight repulsion for clamped-up work photos.)