Below is a gallery of images of a pair of cabinets built for the bathroom of a couple in Wichita. They are constructed from native (specifically South Eastern Kansas) black walnut, solid and veneered, and white oak. The exterior surfaces were “ebonized” using a process which employs the chemical reaction of an iron solution with tannins in the wood, rendering it black. The design of cranes and bamboo were carved into the surface revealing again the natural color of the walnut in the incised lines. I hired Taylor Johnson to build the casework itself. Using traditional methods, the interior framework is a solid skeleton held together with dovetail and mortise and tenon joints. Taylor fabricated plywood with extra thick shop-made walnut veneer to be able to handle carving without passing through to the inner layers. His focus and skill allowed me to give attention to the design challenges and the artwork and carving and exterior finishing the cabinets. My gratitude goes out to Taylor for his tenacity and dedication to excellence, and also to Steve Hebert, who generously gave his time and energy to brilliantly photograph the cabinets in situ.
I delivered this table to my client’s office last week. It is good to finish a piece and be able to celebrate it. In spite of this I tend to experience a wide range of emotions and second guessing when I finish a job. One thing that never changes though is the gratitude I feel at the opportunity to be a woodworker, one who engages the authentic witness of the trees. They always have a real story to tell about our God and His majesty and faithfulness.
Last year, in collaboration with Crosstimbers Woodworking, we designed and built a series of coffee tables and end tables for the Big Horn River Lodge in Montana. Most of the walnut was salvaged from the rejected timber from the logging of a farm in Winfield, Kansas. Photographer Steve Hebert traveled to the lodge and captured some beautiful images of the tables for us.
Is labor a sacrament? The invitation of the Eighth Day? A sacred collaboration with the living God? I can’t help but to note that the call to labor in the garden came before the curse of toil. I am certain that labor is about more than just earning my bread. There is something deeper there, not just for the artist, but for the ditch digger and the roofer, the farmer and the nurse. “Whatever you think, it’s more than that…” ISB.
After about five months the Champion Table is finished and in its new home outside of Chicago. The woods in this table are Kansas Black Walnut and White Oak (the base uses oak from Kansas, the top uses oak of lesser known origin, beyond my friend, the lumber man), the top features also a small amount of Ebony and sulfur. The design is original, and evolved throughout the building process. Central, is a crucifixion theme and the arc. There are other symbolic elements as well, throughout. I am deeply grateful to the Champion family for the opportunity to build a significant piece of furniture for their home and living. I am also humbled and thankful for all the encouragement I have received throughout the building process. Ultimately I am glad in my heart, laboring to make something that celebrates the goodness of God.
The following are a series of photos of the construction of what I have chosen to call a “walnut long table”, featuring a large center cut black walnut slab about 2″ thick from Fall River, KS. The legs are also black walnut from Boaz, KS.
Butterfly sockets along the seasoning check.
Removing material for a large sliding dovetail and dado for the cross brace.
Sawing the slope inside of the dovetail-dado (dovetail bit in router not deep enough).
Fitting the legs. Lower right is a view of the end of the sliding-dovetail on the brace.
Settled on steel bolts over mating the legs to the brace with another sliding dovetail.
View from the “South” end of the table.
From the “North”.