It has been an extraordinary year of custom pieces, many of which will have to wait for another post. However, for now here is a project we recently finished for two clients with unique spacial challenges in their new home. The end results ranged from a dining table perfect for entertainment, an armoire with sliding shoe trays and sun gold details, a 116" wine credenza, a desk with built in cable storage and a 3" thick ash coffee table. All photos courtesy of our super photographer, Devin Tepleski. Now for the fun stuff:
We love a challenge, and will always take a serious look at any request a client gives us. For this particular project, we were presented with a solid Acacia table built in Southeast Asia. The top itself was around 3" thick. So the question was, how do you attach a heavy extension to an even heavier, existing top that has moved over time and is no longer square?
The major issues with extending the table were:
1. Color matching of acacia is virtually impossible given our sources of lumber.
2. The table top had shifted considerably, not only with squareness, but also in thickness.
3. Attaching heavy extensions without throwing off the balance of the table top on the central base.
The solution was to go with lumber that would contrast the deep reddish-orange of the acacia. Our client opted for golden toned Eastern maple and Gun Metal powder coated steel to complete the overall design. The maple brought out the lighter accents in the acacia while the steel visually balanced the large slabs of lumber.
Once the design and material selections were made, the challenge became manhandling maple slabs.
We started with two 12 foot long, 16/4 (4") thick boards. Cut, planed and jointed them until they were down to the required thickness. You know a slab of lumber is big when you need to break out the Dozuki saw to finish a crosscut. A good bag of biscuits, jug of wood glue and lots of clamps brought the planed pieces together into 10" wide extensions.
While the extensions were drying, Kevin came up with a clever solution to the metal detail. Since the finished table was already going to be quite heavy, he created an illusion of a solid stock of metal while reducing the actual volume of steel. The internal tabs allowed us to pull the metal tight against the wood while hiding any hardware.
Meanwhile, after trimming and squaring the edges of the original top, I refinished the acacia with Fiddes Hard Wax Oil.
The final installation occurred at our clients home with plenty of help from friends. The finished top was heavy enough to require five people to move onto the center post. Metal dividers and maple extensions were then assembled followed by a final buff of wax. We hope the extended table will not have to move from its new home for a very long time!
We are often asked: Where can I go to see your furniture? Well, while you may not be able to catch a glimpse of this piece unless you are lucky, it is in the Flame's Saddledome, we promise!
The challenge of this project was to create a bar table that integrates well into the existing suite. For this client, we presented our take on the classic waterfall table. Instead of the standard flat legs, we added a subtle angle to create a more interesting silhouette. As with many of our designs, a metal insert detail was included on the top surface to break up the wood.
Underneath the deep, black stain is a foundation of red oak. Red oak was selected for its beautiful grain that would texturally balance the dark stain. The texture plays an important role in contrasting the smooth surface of the metal insert.
The final weight and assembly was a major concern with this bar table. We wanted the piece to have a seamless look with the ability to be disassembled in the event that the Calgary Flames would be relocating in the future. With a little product design thinking and some very nice hardware, we were able to accomplish what we set out to do.
While the piece could be considered knock-down furniture, it certainly does not feel like it simply from the weight. This piece, like many of our designs, could double as an earthquake shelter. We like to think that it also serves as a natural anti-theft property of our tables and benches. One lift, and someone would likely think, "This is way too heavy to steal."
For the stain, we used SamaN, a water-based product. We love SamaN for its eco-friendly properties as well as its smooth application. Over the black stain, we applied Fiddes Hard Wax Oil. A little over a year ago, we switched over to using Fiddes on both our commercial and residential products. While it is not as easy to find and apply as the classic Verathane and Minwax Polyurethane products, the finish is absolutely worth the effort. In the end, we want our pieces to hold up to use and abuse for generations to come.
The finished table played rather well with other elements in the suite. The black matte, metal insert in the table top referenced the horizontal lines in the wall details as well as the chromed minimalist handles on the cabinetry. We were really excited to do this project for our clients and are pretty happy with the final results. Plus, it was great to see the ice from the suite!
Earlier in the year, we had the opportunity to design and produce a large number of pieces for a client. Last week our supremely talented photographer, Devin Tepleski, had a chance to visit and capture the space. The designs we completed included: forty-four bar stools, four 10' tables, sixteen benches, eleven round lofty café tables, three glass side tables, two coffee tables and one media credenza. There's more to come on the process and individual pieces. Here's a selection of the photos:
Quick update! We have moved (again) and this time we have actually found ourselves in a space that we shouldn't outgrow in a month! Not only are we product designers and builders, but we are quickly become professional shop movers.
This summer we had a request for a patio set consisting of a table, bench and four chairs. Each one became a new design, allowing us to explore some materials and ideas that haven't appeared that often in our other work. In this post I'll give you a little insight in how we took the chair from an idea in our head to a finished piece.
When we collaborate with a client, we often begin with sketches (often quick and dirty) and work into renderings and/or scale thinking models. While we have worked with other programs in the past, Solidworks is the dominant rendering program used in our office.
Renderings are not a perfect representation of how someone may interact with the furniture, but it gives us opportunities to show different color and material combinations quickly. From there we produce technical drawings that we work off of to create a full scale prototype. Ergonomics is a huge focus of our design process, which means we sit/stand on everything we build before making an actual piece.
In this particular series, slats of various widths became our twist on the stereotypical "picnic" set. With a full scale model, we played with the composition of the slats. Call it... purposeful randomness!
Once we had everything adjusted--the angle of the back-- and edited--the slat facet details-- we proceeded to building the four of the design. The final material choice was determined to be aluminum for its anti-rusting characteristics and weight, and batu hardwood for its beautiful deep reddish color, straight consistent grain, and its resilience to the outdoors.
With aluminum being as soft as it is, Kevin was able to cut away at stock using our compound mitre saw usually reserved for wood.
Meanwhile, I was stuck at the table saw for a couple of days cutting and faceting slats. Just when we think we are close to being done, there's always another detail to consider or a surface to make a little bit smoother.
The final results are this chair finished with an Azure powder coat and Messmer's oil on the batu.
It's been a while since an update on what has been happening in our shop. A tremendous amount of pieces were produced since we moved into our new space. So many that it has been hard keeping track. In the last two months alone, we have gone through around 1,000 board feet of solid walnut alone!
Somewhere in the mix of things, a new client in Calgary asked us to design a bent ply barstool. After many sketches, renderings and full scale prototypes we came up with possibly one of our most comfortable products. The photographs are of the bar stool at full bar height. We are currently working on the design at counter height and potentially a spin off into a dining height chair. There's also a potential seat with a backrest in the mix :D
A deep deep apology for being incredibly lax on writing updates. Many, many exciting things have been in the works, and we've found a bit of time to recall all that has happened since Spring time!
The biggest change is that we have moved the shop to Calgary, Alberta. Vancouver Island is still very close to our hearts, but it was time for a change in scenery. And speaking of scenery, the mountains are already a gargantuan source of inspiration both in scale and quantity.
But before we get to Calgary, here's a little bit on packing up our precious precious shop in Shawnigan Lake, Vancouver Island...
Just before leaving, we had one last project to push through. A large, solid walnut TL dining table was the heaviest single piece we've made to date. It was one of many projects that made it pretty clear that we outgrew our shop. As efficiently as we ran the small space, furniture like this called for a extra Tetris superpowers.
Once the table was safely packed away, we proceeded to take apart the shop. It took lots help from friends and family to clear out the space. Behind us we left the mezzanine and our faithful ladder. After two years in one place and reluctance of throwing anything away, we accumulated an incredible amount of scraps and knickknacks.
Time passed quite quickly at 1315 Shawnigan Mill Bay Road. Our tiny bay kept us pretty happy and it was sad to leave it behind.
Since the moment we began scraping paint off the walls to the final closing of the barn doors, we've amassed a variety of experiences. The final lesson was in how much a space evolves as we evolve as designers and builders. Unfortunately, we didn't have much time to meditate on that thought since we were plain exhausted, not to mention incredibly dirty… At 4:30 AM packing and cleaning was finished!
It's been a while since we last did an update. Needless to say it's been pretty busy with new designs, modifications of old ones and general production. One of the custom pieces that recently left our shop was a king-size bed frame made of red oak and steel.
This particular piece tested the size of our shop as we were also working on several other sizable projects simultaneously. We began this project with the intent of flat packing for moving and shipping both from our shop to the client as well as other moves in the products lifetime. As a result, each component from bed slats to legs to the headboard can be disassembled and pack into a long, thin box. While we typically stick to utilizing hardwoods, for this project we opted to use plywood for the bedsides for longterm stability of the wood and weight.
We began with two fourteen foot boards of solid red oak, several sheets of plywood, red oak veneer and two-inch wide flat steel stock. The long boards were quickly cut down to size for the head board and the hardwood edging for the bed sides. Then began the task of laminating our own thick plywood sides. Many, many, many glue-ups later and we had all of the pieces.
Meanwhile in the metal department, the steel underwent a transformation to become the modular legs and head board supports. The legs required a bit of more finessing with two threaded rods welded to each. This eliminates the need for extra hardware, and ensures proper alignment of the legs with the rest of the bed. After a through clean up and finishing, all of the pieces were ready to be assembled.
For assembling the 79" x 83" bed frame, we decided to utilize the wonderful open space outside of our shop. A little prep before hand and we ended up with a pretty darn stable bed frame. Even with the strong winds that day, the bed did not budge.
Unfortunately we weren't able to fit the bed in its entirety into a studio space for photography, but we were able to capture a nice little detail shot of the leg design. Please note that the end caps on the bed sides had not been added until after the leg detail was photographed.
This project was certainly a test of our vehicle and shop space. It has been our largest single piece to date (the custom modular patio set has had the most components). As with all of designs, we are constantly thinking of ways to integrate elements into other furniture. So... look forward to possibly seeing parts of the bed legs in our future work :D
We hope you are enjoying the beginnings of 2014! As for us, we have had some time to ponder the events of the last year and do some serious long term planning. The bit of time off during the holidays has also allowed for a bit of research into a few goodies we picked up in celebration of our first year in business.Read More
Sometimes our shop has its quiet moments when we are waiting in between coats of finish or powder-coating. Whenever that happens, if we aren't working on the business or other logistical things, we fit in some quality design time. As never-fully-content designers, we have a tendency to revisit our designs to make modifications. Coming in the beginning of the new year, we have some new and re-thought pieces to (re)introduce!
Here's a little glimpse into our reconfigured Partial Coffee Table, which was actually one of our first designs as 2point54.
In our original iteration we stuck closer to the proportions of the Impartial Bench. The dimensions worked lovely alongside the Impartial, but did not fully fill out a space on its own. We've changed around the measurements, giving it a greater presence and balance.
While working on the redesign we also finessed our ebonizing solution on maple and will be making the finish available across all of our products. The finish leaves the grey-blue hue of stormy ocean weather without hiding the natural grain of the hardwood. The nature of the stain is to reveal itself after application, often times bringing out aspects of the maple you do not see with the classic Tung oil finish.
We will be sure to keep you posted on each of the new designs as we finish them up!
Simple machines, and some not so simple, are the source of much inspiration for us. We can never pass up a beautiful pulley or impeccable gear mechanism that still works smoothly. A couple months ago, Kevin took a trip to Calgary, Alberta and down through the USA before heading back to the island. Here are a collection of some of the most memorable objects.
It is always amazing to see massive structures with incredible craftsmanship. Not only are these objects built to function and survive for a very long time, their sheer scale is awe-inspiring. There is natural beauty in the symmetry and repetition of the waterwheel, yet it towers over all other things in its vicinity. The contours on the railroad snow plow powerful and penetrating, with two slopes culminating in a precise slicing edge.
On the other hand, we have vehicles where the beauty is in the details. Classic Fords could be found en masse at Heritage Park in Calgary. A Model T-Ford is easily found amongst other classic cars. The particular model shown is of a 1916 Model T-Ford truck. There were also other interesting paraphernalia including an electronic bicycle to a Michelin Man tire pump, to an early tow truck with a manual wench.
And finally, a quick run through Astoria, Oregon, the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific Northwest Coast. It is a particular gem well worth the minor detour if you are going between Seattle and Portland. Not only is there a giant bridge that seems to pop out of nowhere, a beautiful pier and the fresh scent of the Pacific, you can find some great vintage pickings. One particular favorite spot is Vintage Hardware. It is easy to spot as it occupies a large building downtown. Wonderfully eclectic collection. You can check out more on their website.
When designing, we are always considering how things will pack down to be shipped. Considering the cost of shipping in Canada to anywhere… even within Canada… it can be a huge nightmare!
Recently we have tackled the challenge of packing up the Drafting Table to be sent down to Phoenix, Arizona. Fortunately in the process of coming up with the design, flat packing was part of the deal. Thus, the main challenge was figuring out exactly how it would fit like Tetris into a well cushioned crate.
After an extra coat of wax, we built the crate to fit the pieces, hardware and tools for assembly. Allowing for about a ¼" of play for wrapping material, everything stacked in snuggly.
In the two layers we threw in a few desiccant packs to absorb excess moisture. For the last step, the top panel is secured in place with pocket screws. Weighing in at about 130lbs, the crate is ready for travel!
As former city slickers we have a huge appreciation for the environment we are designing in now. This month has been incredibly rich for inspiration and foraging delights!
Our shop is actually located about 10km away from Kinsol Trestle. Building of the former wooden railway trestle began in 1911 and was completed in 1920. Over the years it had to be repaired many times until trains stopped running over it in 1979. In 1988 a fire severely damaged the Trestle. Since then it's been repaired to its current state and is now used as a pedestrian walkway as part of the Trans Canada Trail.
The structure is absolutely amazing to look at in person. There's a crazy mix of new and old timbers, some even hand chiseled! When walking overhead you can see down the Koksilah River and imagine the incredible feat it must have been to mill the timbers and build a trestle strong enough to handle freight trains.
Near the Trestle, by the side of the trail, are stacks of the old timbers, darkened with age. Walking over the Trestle, lining the rails are delicate spider webs. The webs themselves are fascinating structures. Some were seemingly connected to the clouds as the mist from the river blew them straight into the sky. Others contrasted the strict horizontal and vertical lines of steel cable and lumber.
It's walks like this that really inspire our designs and help remind us of what design can be.
On a culinary note, this last month and a half has been incredibly fruitful in mycological terms. Weekends in the bush have yielded a bevy of chanterelles, pine mushrooms, lobster mushrooms, shrimp russula and many many many more of the fungi variety. Not only did we find good eats, but the island is full of great dying mushrooms. For a great mushroom book check out David Arora's All That the Rain Promises and More… It also has the silliest book cover and an abundance of photos of ecstatic mushroom foragers with their finds.
Perhaps an opportunity to explore the wonders of mushroom stains on wood?
For more on the Kinsol Trestle, visit www.kinsol.ca.
Pardon the absence. We have been running around for the last two months, and have not had a chance to sit down and do a proper blog post. Today's post is going to be about a custom project we finished last month for a client on the island.
The project was very exciting for exploration in material and technique. Leading up to the project we had been experimenting with creating our own stains. This brought back a class we took together taught by PJ Carlino at Parsons, where he exposed us to natural dying. We quickly found that the same techniques of creating dye for fabric translate to dying wood.
For this project we were challenged to create brackets for a live edge maple top to be set at counter height. Given the color and tones found in the intended space, we decided to go with an ebonizing solution on Western maple. Unlike oak and walnut, maple does not contain a high concentration of tannins in the grain and therefore does not "ebonies" the same dark color. Instead we are left with a subtle bluish-grey wash that enhances the natural figuring in the slab.
The bark of the slab dyes in a much deeper blue, creating a topographical edge. Being a live-edge slab with quite a severe split, butterfly joints were used to stabilize for a longterm solution. Since we were going to stain with the ebonizing solution, we wanted to highlight the joinery by using walnut butterflies. The walnut ebonized to a deep violet.
For the brackets, the design remained simple yet draws from the lofty stools. The top rail drops at an angle for the gap that is required for the window sill. The parallel lines created with 1" flat steel stock are a single design detail that serves a very functional purpose of support. The metal is finished with a matte black powder coat to compliment the bluish-grey of the maple top.
While we typically try to enhance the natural personality of each species of wood with a simple Tung oil finish, when given the challenge to stain, we wanted to ensure that the figuring of such a beautiful slab was going to be the highlight of the piece. This also allowed us to control the chemicals going into the bar. In this case, the stain was made from a mixture of steel wool and vinegar. The wash-like stain we came up with provided the color without sacrificing the dynamic ribboning of the grain. The color is reminiscent of the ocean with its frothy white and deep blues.
With this project opening up up our own stains, we are happy to delve deeper into natural dyes including the use of mushrooms. Since mushroom season is still going, we have a chance to take advantage of Vancouver Island's naturally produced dyes.
This summer, two friends in Vancouver came to us with the challenge of designing modular patio furniture for their balcony. The premise was that they needed to contain a privacy/windscreens and planter/storage/seating boxes. Since the screens had to be free standing, the boxes would act as a stabilizer from the windy and rainy Pacific Northwest.
We began with researching existing products to see common techniques, materials and finishes used. It became very apparent there wasn't much in the way of diversity for patio furniture; let alone a set that is multifunctional and modular.
We came up with a simple configurable trapezoidal design with short and long screens. The trapezoids allow for a smooth transition around corners as well as straight orientations. We used facets throughout the set as a unifying visual element.
There are multiple setups available with the short and long screens. The screens, once secured, are perfect for leaning against. One to three short screens can be configured on the long edge of a box. Since the boxes can also be used a planter, two screens can frame a larger plant. As demonstrated with a fallen branch on the property and our prototype.
As for the materials, cedar was chosen for its resistance to rot. As per request, we used the shou sugi ban technique to finish the piece with a deep rich color. Since we chose to go for a lighter char for functional, the rich amber of cedar grain was able to come through for a unique look unachievable with a traditional stain.
After stocking the shop with cedar, the project ran rather quickly with minimal scrap. One major lesson we have learned through this project is that we may out grow our shop sooner than we thought! We should have photos soon of the entire set in situ, so look forward to that in the near future.
A big thanks to Tracy and Jay for giving us this opportunity to delve into the world of outdoor furniture.
Whew! It has been a long time coming for this particular piece! But here we go:
Backtracking a little... The drafting table grew out of truly incredible finds at a local vintage/salvage shop: An old Model T-Ford jack and Crane faucet handles. The material choices of steel with a patina finish and walnut finished with tung oil were simple. The two work together to highlight the brass of the knobs and the natural patina of the jack.
For the steel, Kevin produces each piece from 20ft lengths of mild steel. He cuts, cleans, welds, grinds, cleans, cleans again before we begin the patina process. A few changes were made between the prototype and the final product.
Meanwhile, with the walnut, little details are everything. Each leg piece is cut to ensure the flow of lines from form to grain. Once all of the pieces are finished, we take plenty of time to assemble and wax where necessary. Since starting the drafting table, we've been fortunate to come across a few more jacks. Yet each are slightly different in height and casting, which much to our delight, means if we do make another drafting table, it will still be one of a kind.
And for those of you who are interested, the piece is for sale :D Just let us know.
We have always had a strong love for drafting tables. Not only are they great for working, they are also incredibly diverse from bare-bones basic to fancy-shmancy mechanisms. After a trip to the local reclaimed store, an old Model T-Ford jack became the starting point for our take on the drafting table.
After the full-scale mock up and lots of discussion and editing we started making the real thing out of walnut and steel. It is always more assuring after seeing how the prototype works before moving onto the final material.
And now we wait! (For tung oil to dry :D)
A while back, we decided to invest in a tiny branding iron. Feeling a little fire-deprived, this past week we finally got around to trying it out!
Here are some lessons we learned:
1. Welding screen works well as a wind shield.
2. Propane torch with built in ignitor is a really fun tool!
3. The smell of burning cedar, ash and oak is very soothing.
4. The desire to brand everything in sight is a serious issue.
This past month, we have been playing around with furniture wax. Annoyed with using off-the-shelf products that fail to disclose their "special formulas" we decided to make our own. Sticking to food-safe materials--beeswax, organic carnauba wax, coconut, jojoba and mineral oils--we tested different formulas and ratios to find a consistency that is easy to apply, creates a beautiful protective layer and stores properly. The care of a piece of furniture plays a large role in extending its life, therefore we would like to encourage our customers to do so without having to introduce toxic products into their house. There's also a little added Sweet Orange essential oil for a refreshing scent.
Here's a little snapshot into what we've done:
Wood. Sweet, sweet wood. It's the source of inspiration, awe and occasionally frustration for us. The greatest feeling of euphoria happens somewhere between the first wipe of tung oil and the final buff of wax on a walnut surface.
Being surrounded by forests at our shop gives us a prime opportunity to appreciate the source of the material we work with. It is important to us that the woods we use are domestic to both support local business and the environment as a whole. And to complete the circle, we plan on donating a percentage of each sale to two charities, Chari-Tree and Plant a Billion. I will write a little more about them later.
With its abundance of character and temperaments, we treat each piece of lumber accordingly. Here's a little look into the transformation the surface undergoes.