Wednesday, December 15, 2010

young apprentice

Sam is constantly coming out to the shop to "help" his dad get some work done. It both slows me down to a near stop several times a week and delights me. The other day after one of Sam's visits, I had to pause and laugh at his excellent job cleaning up. There were these regular patterns in the sawdust where he had dragged the broom one direction and then another believing that this was how it was done. Now firmly out of an effective pattern I turned on some good music, swept the floor and tried to get back into the project puzzling at the opposing forces at work in the shop. It is the worst best place to do woodworking.

Here are some doors that went to an enormous entertainment center I built earlier this summer. There were four upper doors made in a revised French Country style. The finish was sort of a cream with some light glazing. Overall, the piece had quite a bit of ornamentation, something that is outside of the average IB project, which was good for a change.

Some odd rails with the tenons cut into them, ready to assemble.

My best helper Sam helping me dry fit the parts together.

Gluing and assembling the various parts.

Driving the stiles home before clamping.

Metal Cover

This summer we worked on a beautiful home in Idaho. It was situated on a butte overlooking the most picturesque river. It was a really good project and it kept us very busy. I will hopefully be able to sneak back up there once the floors are finished and snap some photos.

In the bathroom there was this tricky sump pump that was a little difficult to design around. The contractor suggested a big steel sleeve to hide it. We also were able to conceal a remote steam shower unit. This is the unit in progress and again with the first coat of patina.
The finished metal is a deep auburn rust with some lighter marks here and there. It has since been capped in walnut with a bench that fits next to it. It will also have a towel bar wrapping around it. An interesting kill-several-birds-with-one-stone sort of a project.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The -A- table

Hey gang, check out some pictures of our latest table on the website. The goal is that this will be a part of a signature line that is intended for everyone, not just the wealthy. At $1750 it is still not inexpensive, but I challenge anyone to find a table that is made in America with a solid 8/4 (which finishes off at 1 3/4 inches thick) cherry top for less money.

This table has a hand rubbed finish, which I truly love. The danish oil and paste wax make for a very nice smooth feel without masking the wood's character. This finish is also less fussy than a urethane or a lacquer because tables get scratched. Especially if you have kids, it is going to happen! Instead of scratching through to the unfinished wood and having peeling issues, all the owner has to do is rub some more wax on it and let the wood be wood, acquiring it's patina of good use.

The design is also very simple so that he wood itself becomes the primary decoration.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chad Parkinson Envy

This green onyx bathroom is one of the most spectacular rooms I have ever been in. Ivory Bill did the layout and design and Chad Parkinson (Ivory Bill Alumnus) and our talented friend Will made the actual magic. They are meticulous about every intersection and every joint. In the shower (pictures coming soon to the website) they used a slab of onyx to make a seamless bench. The ledge around the lower edge of the shower is also seamlessly cut from a slab as well as all door frames and windows. Ivory Bill made the walnut vanity with subtle relief carving. The clients chose a nice lighter onyx for the top and backsplash for contrast.

A note here too about the contractor Devan Thompson of Harrow Construction (Idaho Falls.) He did a colossal amount of work tearing out the existing bathroom, reconfiguring it, making calculations about the weight, sourcing all of this beautiful stone and making the whole thing come together wonderfully; including doing a lot of the finishing touches. The design dictated that there be a plaster cove above the top shelf where the onyx ended so that the light wouldn't end in a sharp corner, but would instead bend up into the ceiling, creating a smooth transition from wall to ceiling. Devan made that happen too.

When the clients told me that they wanted floor to ceiling stone, I was worried that it would end up a little too over-the-top. Now, having seen the finish, I don't feel that way at all. In spite of the lavish materials it escapes being overdone or gaudy. It is instead an intriguing space with much that is beautiful to look at and from many different angles.

And so I am envious. Chad (& Co.) have made a great contribution to the nearly extinct virtue of excellent craftsmanship and beautiful, timeless design.

Monday, June 21, 2010

at home

The table and chairs are resting contentedly in their new home next to the bench in the breakfast nook. The clients informed me that they are screening guests before inviting them to sit down in case they have too much scratchy bling on their jeans. I am flattered.

mosaic installed

I'll have some higher quality pictures of this on the website, including the whole fireplace, but for now...
Be sure to click on the image and zoom in all the way. You can see how the light hits each facet differently causing little flashes of light to bounce off in several directions at once. It is really exciting to see in person because as you move toward the mosaic the light blinks on and off of the surface at inviting intervals.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chair + Fine Finish

After a few weeks and lots of anticipation the finisher called to say that the table and chairs were ready! The finish turned out perfectly, the chairs are velvet to the touch. Thank you Michael Ensign. We do a lot of finishing ourselves, but when a piece needs to be superhuman, Michael is our man.

Let me take you on a tour:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Remarkable Sit

How do you go about designing and constructing a chair that you never want to get out of?

A few years ago, my wife and I visited a windsor chair maker in Maine and when someone gasped at the pricetag he directed everyone to a room where all of his competitors' chairs were set up. He had a Thomas Moser chair in the mix along with several other chairs of comparable price. We sat in all of them. They seemed like regular old chairs. Then we sat in his chair and one by one, we all agreed that it was by far the most comfortable chair. I remember how it slid you right back, kept your back supported and sort of hugged you in, compelling you to stay there all day. My body remembers the "sit."

Not everyone wants a reproduction of a several hundred year-old windsor chair. So, we used the same elements of comfort and updated the look with our own fingerprint. I think they turned out quite remarkably. You may have to sit in one before you have seen the light.

We spent quite a long time on the prototype. After it was roughed out, we fine-tuned some of the angles and resumed building the finished chairs.

We carved the saddle (or seat) out of a block of 1.5 inch stock. That is a lot of wood to remove and fine tune! The front and back legs all meet the saddle and the aprons at compound angles and in some cases compound curves. The spindles follow the curve of the spine. Even the radius of the backrest was held-up to several different peoples' backs to make sure it was right.

These four chairs go with the table in the post below. We are excited to build more of them.


This table is part of a breakfast nook. Two of the sides will have chairs and two of them will join a built-in bench. The client's only instructions were: "make it earthquake proof." Just joking. The base is made of cherry and is at the finisher as we speak being dressed in a rich dark finish.

The top is made of thick quartersawn oak with walnut inlays and is going to have a natural finish, making it a medium value to contrast with the dark cherry. The chairs are also cherry with a contrasting quartersawn "saddle."

The table is joined together with deep mortises and big tenons, which are locked tight with dowels. The two main parts are connected with a central runner and two aprons, which are removable for moving. Fully assembled this table probably weighs more than my car.

While I was finish-sanding the top, I had it standing on end and looked away briefly to grab a new piece of sandpaper. The massive thing fell and almost ended my life! What we have to sacrifice for art...

Monday, April 5, 2010


Have you ever heard of Daily Tonic? It is really a boss blog. They showcase brilliant architectural and funiture design worldwide. Check it out at

I'll occasionally repost some pictures that inspire me, pictures like these!:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


In sharp contrast to yesterday's rustic fireplace, here is a contemporary collaboration I did with M3 design, the other SLC-based group of talented young chaps.

The design is interesting from multiple viewpoints, and is made of some really great materials. I could really dork-out about the specifics, but in a nutshell the base is constructed mainly of brushed white oak. The wire brushing makes the grain stand out in high relief, accenting the "thumb print" of the wood which I really dig. There is also walnut, sandblasted glass and two of the raddest handmade copper sinks, which will take-on their own dark patina over time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


As we were finishing up the installation of the fireplace, the clients asked if we'd done other fireplaces in the past. Here is one I designed way back when. The finish is multi-layered and I wish I had a picture of the whole thing. It is about 9 feet tall overall.
Anyway, here's one from the archives:
P.S. Images of the (current) finished fireplace with mosaic will be forthcoming! Keep your socks on!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Reclaimed Oak Timbers

How is that for rugged? Solid white oak. Joey and Chad have been like stonemasons this last little while heaving, shaping, taming the timbers.

This is a preview of the mantle for the fireplace shown in drawing form below. It is exciting to work with such unusual materials. After our backs feel normal again, we'll say that we had a good time!

Have a look at this massive joint:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fireplace: Three Birds

Here is an introduction and preview of a mosaic we are doing for Mr and Mrs. "A" (for whom we built a kitchen last year.) The artwork features three gamebirds: a pheasant, a chukar and a quail. The mosaic surrounds the fireplace and will be crowned with a really unusual reclaimed oak mantle and hand carved cherry frame-and-panel upper section.

Here are some in-progress pictures of the project. For materials we used vitreous glass 1x1 tiles and broke/cut them into thirds. We also used some really beautiful watery white art glass from Beehive Glass, which became the background.

The process started with a drawing and some dimensions and specs. I am always amazed at the kinds of things that can spring from a scratchy drawing on a little skinny piece of paper. Wonderful things large and small that make life beautiful. In this present case a medium-sized thing is in the process of springing from this tiny little drawing:

Next we built forms to hold the glass square as we were laying it down. Then we made full sized drawings in reverse in order to glue the pieces to. And then the work began...