Category Archives: materials

Table with a view

IMG_6042 (507x640)                             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 IMG_6030 (640x413)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. IMG_6049 - Copy (452x640)                            

ApplePly art studio

StudiocornerThe client had been working on the conversion of a garden room into an insulated and heated art studio.  The room would still retain the functions of garden tool storage and candle making area, but she also wanted a dedicated space for her multiple mediums of art and where supplies could be stored at close reach. Studio ApplePly, manufactured right here in Eugene, was an easy material choice.  The eastern maple panel faces are perfect for slab doors and drawer fronts, and the uniform laminations make a distinctive exposed edge; and, without any need to face the edges, the cost savings helped keep the budget down.  Osmo Polyx oil and wax finish brings out a warm glow in the maple, and creates a durable coating without the high VOC's of most other finishes.  Angle iron from the scrap yard was repurposed as drawer and door pulls, and the weathered steel texture is in subtle contrast to the ApplePly.

White Oak Mantle

photo(8) (320x295)The fireplace had been through a couple stages of upgrade before I met the homeowners.  The original brick fireplace had been updated to gas and was given a veneer of slate tile prior to their purchase of the home, but the mantle and fireplace surround were left bare.  After moving into the home, they picked up a nice live edge black walnut slab from Urban Lumber, and they mounted the slab with the idea that it would be part of the final design. WOMantleThough the mantle was temporary, they got the most out of it.  I first met clients in October and it was decorated for Halloween.  They already were gravitating towards a craftsman styled fireplace, and when I returned in November to go over the first round of designs, the mantle was decorated for Thanksgiving.  We further   refined the design and looked at wood samples in December, with Christmas stockings hung (by the chimney with care).  They took the President's Day holiday off.   WOMantle2The final design was based on something they had found online, and it incorporated craftsman themes that would play well with the existing slate tile.  We realized early in the process that the black walnut slab was a bit too short for this mantle (and it was subsequently used as a shelf above a coat rack in the entryway); and locally harvested white oak seemed the perfect choice because it takes stain well and would tie in with other similarly styled furnishings in the living room.  The quarter-sawn white oak was treated with a wood dye process followed by a coat of stain to achieve a color similar to the diamond-shaped accent tiles.  End grain black walnut plugs provide a bit of subtle geometry to the piece, and a shadow line below the mantle top adds levity (and hidden in the shadow is a groove to hang decorations for the next holiday).

Adult Dresser Set

AdultTallDresser     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.   AdultHiddenBoxCurly 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. AdultDresserWide

Big Ponderosa Table

PineTable 010 (800x434) 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. PineTable 044 (800x533) 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. BigPineTable (640x388) 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.

Vero Coffee Bar

As part of an expansion of the outdoor deck seating at Vero, I added a chinquapin bar top in the hallway seating area.  Although chinquapin is not a commonly used in woodworking, for this project it VeroBar (2)was the perfect choice: locally harvested, a warm-toned wood that would blend nicely with the Douglas fir floors and doors, takes a finish and will wear well in a coffee house, and relatively economical.  Chinquapin is often a smaller tree (in comparison with the big leaf maple, Douglas fir, and other trees that live in its neighborhood) and yields lumber of relatively small dimension and abundant knots; but Curly Burly had some larger material with few knots and was perfect for this project.  

Before and After Bath

Panorama A before and after image of a small bathroom remodel (pictures taken from different perspectives).  The homeowner wanted to update the look of the small guest bathroom by adding tile to the floor, wainscot to the walls, and custom vanity cabinet and medicine cabinet trim.  To the left of the vanity, aHiddenPanel panel door on a push latch opens to reveal a bit of hidden storage. The homeowner liked the look and space saving of using a one-piece vanity sink/top, but we were both unimpressed with the quality of the off-the-shelf cabinets.  The cabinets we found were made overseas using materials that would not hold up well in the moist conditions of a bathroom.  The prefab cabinets look nice in the show room, but after a few years of being exposed to normal use in a humid environment, the mdf (or whatever the fiber press board material) begins to swell and flake the paint, and the hardware begins to loose its grip and pull out of the doors and face frame.  As they say, the cheap becomes expensive.  This vanity cabinet was made with poplar grown right here in Oregon, and finished with a high quality, low-VOC alkyd paint that will wear well in a bathroom.  All three drawers are usable to maximize storage capacity, and the top two are U-shaped to accommodate the the plumbing drain assembly. In a small space like this, sneaky storage goes a long way to making things feel bigger than they really are.  

Walnut Mantle

WalnutMantleArch The former fireplace surround was porcelain tile and painted mdf, and the homeowner was looking to make use of local materials to update the focal point of the living room.  The tile was replaced with travertine, and the nicely figured black walnut was milled by Curly Burly.  I used a hand-rubbed Polyx Oil finish to really help the figure pop.  Often, some of the more muted violet and grey tones in black walnut will become less distinct when finished; and I was pleased that the color variations remained so prominent in the finished piece. WalnutMantle    

Concrete, Stone, Wood

Three elements- concrete, stone and wood - work together on this fireplace surround.  Okay, concrete is essentially stone, so maybe its only two or possibly two-and-a-half elements.  Whatever the math, the fireplace is anchored by the dark, cool texture of the concrete hearth, surrounded by a sandstone veneer, and capped by a live edge big leaf maple mantle.  The original incarnation of the fireplace in marble tile and painted mdf was still in good shape, but was on the other side of the spectrum of the clients' aesthetic sense.  The goal was to create a fireplace with materials that emphasized their natural characteristics (split-faced sandstone and live edged maple) without feeling too rustic, while fitting into a fairly contemporary house at the same time.

The concrete hearth was assembled from four sections poured off-site.  The design of the interlocking sections was to a large degree influenced by the difficulties of either pouring off-site as a single, #350+ piece; or pouring on-site and working with wet (and dusty when dry) concrete around carpet and interior furnishings.  I felt it was important that the exposed faces of the heath have a fairly uniform texture (so the geometry of the concrete sections would be a dominant feature of the hearth) and if poured on-site it would have been difficult to produce a top surface with the same character as the sides and face by using a hand trowel.  The concrete sections were only lightly polished in order to remove the subtle texture imparted by the melamine forms, but not so much as to grind through the cement cream layer and expose the aggregate.  A handful of air pockets, intentionally left unfilled, add a nice smattering of shadows to the face of the hearth.

For the mantle, a hefty slab of big leaf maple from Curly Burly, with just a bit of spalting that adds an interesting pattern and contrast to the corbels. There were several iterations in sizing the mantle.  The slab was nearly 16" wide, but after three or four rounds of test fitting, contemplating, and cutting down, it finished about half the original size.  Two overhead spotlights cast a prominant shadow over the fireplace, and in the end we found a good balance between the light-accented mantle edge and its shadow across the face of the stone; and at the same time paying attention to the proportions of the three elements of the fireplace surround.

 

Memorial Box

Indeed, it is a small world.  A woman came into the Out on a Limb gallery while I was working and she was looking for a box that was "about this wide by this wide" (imagine something that would fit a couple grapefruits).  Though, there is an eclectic array of wooden crafts at the gallery we did not have any such object; but I offered make one that if there was something in particular she had in mind.  She hesitated, said she needed something for the weekend (it was already Thursday) and that she would keep looking because she didn't think there was time for something custom.  I had plenty to do at the time, and would have normally just referred her to other stores nearby; but after just a couple minutes of conversation there was a familiarity between us and I pressed her a little, said that a quick turn-around on something fairly simple was possible and we worked out the details pretty quickly.

She had grown up in Eugene but now lives in Alaska, and had returned to memorialize the recent passing of her father.  Her sister still lives in the area, and they were going to spread his ashes at a couple of his favorite local spots; and she was looking for a box they could use to transport his ashes, and that she could keep in his memory.  He had loved to spend time in the woods, and it was important to her that it be made from a locally occurring tree, because it would have been familiar to her father.  In life he traveled among the trees in the forest, and in death travels in the trees of the forest.

The box is black oak with an English walnut top, both harvested locally by Curly Burly.  Projects like this are often particularly satisfying because there is very little forethought involved, and the design falls naturally from the characteristics of the objects dimensions, function, and materials.  I worked out the design on my bikeride home from the gallery, and had it assembled later in the afternoon.

When we had spoken at the gallery and I told her where my shop (and house) was, and she said she had spent her childhood somewhere in that area of Eugene.  Understand, in the early 1950's when she would had lived in the neighborhood, there was very little about southeast Eugene that was "residential".  The Corps of Engineers had only recently lowered Amazon Creek, and what was a broad floodplain created by the Amazon and its many small tributaries and had been largely impassable during the winter months was transformed into a seasonally soggy, but developable, neighborhood.  A client from project a few years back had spent part of her childhood in a house a couple blocks away, and had told me about the early days of the neighborhood when there were only a handful of homes on the street and there was more mud and trees than sidewalks and houses.

When she came to pick up the box, I was running late to meet her and she occupied herself with a walk around the neighborhood.  Turns out, the house she and her sister grew up in was just a couple doors down.  The journey for her and her sister to say goodbye to their father had again intersected with the place their father had first brought them home.