After making the trip with me to pick out lumber for the table, the clients (recent retirees from the mid-west) remarked that Portlandia has more of a basis in reality than they realized. The book-matched western walnut pieces in the table top came from a farm near Peoria, and the western maple centerpiece from the eastern Coast Range. They joked, "can we visit where the tree grew"...was it a joke?...yes, it was a joke. We had been looking for something else for the table top; but then Clifford (http://curlyburlymilling.com/) showed us the book-matched sets of western walnut and they immediately knew it was right. By itself, the walnut set was too narrow for a dining table; and, the western maple centerpiece was a graceful way to incorporate the walnut into a larger top and preserved the book-matched effect. The trestle style base gives lightness to the large table (7'+ long) and complements the open, modern feel of the home.
This white oak desk was the final piece of a kitchen remodel, and functions as an informal place to listen to the radio, enjoy morning coffee or an afternoon cocktail, and be near the action in the kitchen. The remodel had been completed several years earlier; and before I became involved, the client worked the desk design through several iterations and created a fully functional mock up. Despite the detailed design provided by the client, I didn't fully appreciate some elements of the design until I saw it in place; and I was merely a conduit for the vision of the client. The desk is perfectly scaled to the space, complements the aesthetic of the kitchen, and fits the vision for their completed kitchen.
The client had a vision of the design, and together we chiseled that down to a nicely proportioned king-sized bed that fits well within the space and complements the other furnishings-- the bedroom has tall ceilings and furnishings that are relatively short, so the low slung design of the bed is well suited to the feel of the room. To me, the appeal of the design is in it's simplicity and that the colors and textures of the woods are more complimentary than contrasting; and, the depth of color in the eastern cherry and fiddleback grain in the western maple collaborate beautifully.
Through tenons of any size are a challenge, and with legs more than three inches thick, both parts of the joint are problematic to cut. The mortise cut on the exposed face of the legs is even more critical because any irregularity in the mortise will be visible against the side of the tenon as it protrudes from the leg (while the shoulder of the rail on the inside leg face covers the perimeter of the mortise, so at least one side allows for a little buffer if the chisel operator happens to loose focus and make an errant cut). Because the legs are thicker than the mortise bit is long, the mortise had to be cut from both sides to bore all the way through. (Although, I imagine it would make sense to do it this way regardless, since the tear out of a mortising bit on the back side of a leg would be ragged). A few adjustments to get the mortise machine set square and true made the holes line up nicely. For the tenons, it took longer to build a jig capable of handling a 10" wide tenon than it took to cut the tenons, but it was time well spent because the cuts were precise and the jig will be used again.
Wedges in the tenon ends provide for positive attachment between the legs and rails, and minimize the need for glue. Beds carry significant weight-- weight that sometimes moves around rapidly-- and it is distributed across only a few joints, so the mechanical strength provided by the wedge in a through tenon adds extra durability to an already strong joint. While test fitting all the pieces, I marked where the tenon protruded from the leg, and chamfered the ends with a chisel while disassembled. After the glue-up, it was quick to trim the wedges and touch up the exposed tenon end.
This western maple standing height desk was designed for a human, although consideration was also given to the dogs that often accompanied her to the office. From the perspective of the dogs, the desk is both something to lounge under and the place where treats are kept, the latter being a far more important design element. From the perspective of the human, it was important that the desk have efficient storage that was neither bulky nor cluttered, felt light, was of the scale of her office, and was made of something local and beautiful. In her words:
I want to tell you how happy I am to stand at this desk. It not only works as I hoped it would, but it's REALLY beautiful, which makes me smile daily. Couldn't ask for more. The dogs have become fully acquainted with the special dog treat section and now sit and stare at it, trying to will it open.Thanks for doing such a great job and being so easy to work with.
A western black walnut bed, inspired by elements of Roy McMakin's bed for the Young residence. In particular, Ginger was drawn to the chamfered foot board corners, sturdy proportions, and overall clean design; and with nicely figured local walnut and a book-matched headboard, this has the imprint of the northwest.
Certain purchases stand out because they in some way symbolize reaching a milestone. A house is an obvious and big one; but not far down the list there are more mundane items, such as a washer and dryer or a first never-been-slept-on-by-another-human bed, that mark another rung up the ladder to adulthood. In this case, it is a dresser set of Oregon white oak made for a friend that had recently reached another adult milestone of a first job after college. Technically, a real job.
Curly Burly supplied the quarter-sawn white oak and black walnut lumber for the two piece dresser set: one short and wide with a vanity mirror and the other tall and skinny...and somewhere inside is a removable hidden compartment.
Dining room table and chair set made from ponderosa pine accented with black walnut. The live-edged table top is a single slab, approximately 42" wide; and its 250+ pounds is supported by a variation of a trestle style base, joined to the top by dovetail grooves that allow the top to freely shrink and swell. The chairs are upholstered in leather, and a book matched pine panel accents each chair back.
The slab was milled from a 280+ year old ponderosa on the edge of the Middle Fork Willamette River valley. The big ponderosa pine forests in Oregon are found mainly on the dry side of the Cascade Range at relatively high elevation; but known locally as valley pine (or more officially pacific ponderosa pine), this subspecies grows at low elevation along the margins of the valley and is well adapted to the areas mild winters and seasonally soggy clay-rich soils. This particular tree came down in a wind storm in 2009, and the property owner was a friend of the client and had milled the tree by chainsaw. No small feat for a tree of that size.
Pine is generally soft, and ponderosa is no different; although, because it is old growth and is made of hundreds of growth rings tightly stacked together, it is significantly harder than the plantation grown pine found at the home improvement store. It may not be ideal for a heavy use table top, but given the uniqueness of the wood and the clients connection to the property and owner, that limitation was easily accepted.
Like most good ideas, this one had already been thought of; and, the idea for the clothes ladder came to me from a friend that had seen one at a hotel in Laos. It is a home for clothes that are neither clean nor dirty, and is inspired by the idea that mostly-clean clothes could go somewhere besides in a pile on the floor. Made from locally-harvested hardwoods, this is purgatory for your clothes.