Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Professors

Parts of two new faculty offices that were conveniently just a couple doors down from one another, both in Oregon white oak.  The offices were recently renovated; and the two new faculty occupants were in need of space efficient cabinetry and furniture that provided good function without taking up valuable floor space.  Offices on campus are typically small (the larger of the two measures about 14' x 14'), especially in the aged Condon Hall, where offices were chopped up and made into even more offices.

In the first office, bookcases with built-in space for a fridge, small counter with room for a tea kettle and accoutrements, and a microwave (not pictured); and a small Prairie-inspired meeting table and set of three chairs of white oak with a Polyx Oil finish.  Osmo Polyx Oil is a low-VOC, hand applied finish made from plant-based oils and waxes, and has become my favorite to use on most furniture and some cabinetry.  It soaks into the grain and dries hard, creating a durable finish that brings out woods natural beauty.  Plus, it is apparently approved for use on children's toys in Germany, so if German kinder can chew on it, then what more reason do I need?

With chairs, so much of the effort is spent setting up each operation during the building process.  Even with a fairly simple chair design, as these were, each chair part needs to be touched eight or ten or twelve or more times just to get it ready for assembly.  And with so much time spent on the set up, rather than making three, I made ten.  (Plus, I needed new chairs for the kitchen, because the several times reglued and reupholstered hand-me-down dining room chairs were just about spent).

In the second office, the client wanted space for books, a locking drawer, and places to set photos and plants.  In order to keep the cabinet from being too dominant in the office, I staggered the heights of the sections and left plenty of space around the window.  (The office has nearly 12' ceilings, which is two feet taller than the office is wide, so if the cabinet were too tall it would quickly diminish the light scattered by the upper walls and cause it to feel more closed in).

   

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.