philosophy

The Philosophy

Materials

Living and working in Hawaii means that 98% of the pieces I produce are requested made from Koa, the native species that to many people signifies the essence of Hawaii. Because of this demand, coupled with the relative scarcity and high cost of Koa, ( large stands of Koa timber are limited to the Big Island ) my first rule of material use is to conserve the resource.

Whenever possible I design pieces to utilize custom sawn veneers applied to hardwood cores so that the resource can be maximized. This also allows the use of 'book matching', for repetitive and symetrical display of the woodgrain to optimal effect, a visually pleasing enhancement. The dresser below is constructed of marine grade plywood core material with 1/8" thick custom-sawn Koa veneers on all the exterior faces.

Other native island species occasionally utilized are Milo, Keawe, Mango and Sugi-pine. Sometimes I blend mainland woods into my projects, ebonizing them for contrast value.

 

An example of grain 'bookmatching'

My second rule of material use is, always try to select the most appropriate material for the purpose. For example, when constructing drawers I utilize Mahogany for drawer sides, a stable, attractive hardwood, and incense cedar for the bottoms, to discourage pests and provide a pleasant aromatic effect. A secondary benefit of such choices is economy of materials expense without sacrificing quality.

a mahogany and cedar drawer

My third rule is, always use the highest quality hardware available. I customarily utilize Blum under-mount self-closing drawer slides and door hinges, made in Germany to exacting standards. Whenever the client specifies a style of decorative trim, knob or pull, I search online for the best version I can locate.

Finishing

I utilize two types of finishing, either hand-wiped oil ( usually Daly's sea-fin, an excellent blend of natural oils and solids designed for marine use ) or pre-catylized lacquer. I prefer lacquer, for it's ease and speed of application, consistent results and ability to effectively protect the wood from water penetration. Lacquer finishes are also the easiest and quickest to repair if a piece ever suffers a dent or scratch in service.

Standard surface preparation is sanding the wood to 240 grit and applying sealer, then lacquer, by spraygun. Application of 2 coats is customary, sanding with 400 grit in-between, and winding up hand-rubbing with 0000 grade steel wool, for a silky-smooth satin surface.

Some furniture makers neglect to finish the backs, bottoms and casework interiors of their pieces, regarding these areas as not generally seen and therefore not rquiring the same effort as the exteriors; I sand and finish every surface of a piece the same way.

a hand-rubbed satin lacquer finish

Design

Although a client will occasionally bring me a specific design request, as a general rule it is my own designs that generate interest for a custom order. I strive to provide unique proposals for my clients, 'one-of-a-kind' productions. My design philosophy is to emphasize economy of line and materials, for a graceful and minimalist result that showcases the wood and provides efficient function. I have a particular fondness for bent-lamination work,( also referred to as 'cold-molding' ) because it allows wonderful freedom of form and expression, great strength and the ability to maximize the wood resource through veneering techniques. My favorite core material for bent-laminations is sapele, an inexpensive fine-grain mahogany variant with color values very close to those found in Koa.

A cold-molded Koa project example; only the seat and front legs are solid lumber.

Details

Joinery and accents; unless a request for a specific type of joinery is made, I stick with 'keeping things simple'; half-laps, pinned interlocking joints and the occasional dovetail suffice for most constructions. A favorite 'signature' detail of mine is a flushed square-peg accent. Sometimes I will work in contrasting wood accents for richness, such as Ebony or Rosewood. Sometimes I employ 'butterfly' key inlays to bridge voids or cracks in natural-edge planks. I hand-saw my dovetails.

no, I don't use nails.

butterfly key and square pegs in natural-edge Milo top with ebonized poplar base

Mottos

do it right the first time

measure thrice and cut once

waste not, want not

keep it simple

 

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