Category Archives: furniture

Maple and Metal Bookcase


A slender bookcase of big leaf maple from Urban Lumber with black walnut accents and black-oxidized steel side panels.  The side panels were designed by the client and were, in part, inspired by a balcony railing in the home (coincidentally, the only place from which the homeowners can see the wonderfully figured top of the six-foot plus high bookcase).

I researched kitchen science methods of oxidizing steel, and tried a few concoctions containing some combination of salt, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and home brewed ale (to fuel the science).  The home brew was good, the science was faulty. Or more accurately, the kitchen science methods were not going to work on my time line.  I was surprised to eventually find a solution to oxidizing the panels from a local gun dealer.  But, not surprisingly, they don’t get many requests from customers about how to oxidize something that does not fire bullets; but they did have options and good advice.  The side panels were oxidized using “gun blue”, a process which initially created an uneven blue-grey haze, but four applications yielded a even dark grey-blue patina to the steel.  The contrast between the matte textured steel and the highly figured big leaf maple is what really makes this piece stand out.

The "Doug" Table

A mere splinter of a once-towering tree, the base for this Douglas Fir and Bigleaf Maple coffee table is a remnant of "Doug ". Doug was a 420 year old, 6'+ diameter slab of salvaged Douglas Fir that had traveled more than 30,000 miles as part of the Ancient Forest Roadshow. Doug met thousands of people along its journey and was a tangible reminder of the threats to the last remaining ancient forests. This coffee table was auctioned at the 9th Annual Wonderland Auction to benefit Cascadia Wildlands.

It may have taken more than four centuries to grow, but after only a few years traveling on a trailer for the roadshow, the massive slab had begun to show the wear of being exposed to the elements.  When I first heard Doug was to be decommissioned, I had a grand vision of making a meeting table of the massive slab.  As we began to remove it from the trailer it quickly became clear that the slab would not hold together, and we focused on salvaging the most sound sections.  These pieces were quite hefty, although their mass did not translate into strength, and I worried if I milled them too thin that they would further fall apart.  For the coffee table, I used the fraction of Doug as the base and incorporated a slab of big leaf maple, keyed into the face.