While Linden and Leaf is primarily concerned with custom framing of fine art, we occasionally take on commissions of furniture design. A client approached us with the desire for end-tables with tops and shelves made of wide, single-slab wood. This sounded like a bad idea. Wide boards of wood, inherently unstable, no matter how flat when milled, will twist, cup, and move with seasonal shifts in temperature and humidity.
The client’s wife specified a desire that the project reflect the traditional joinery methods of her Japanese heritage: no metal fasteners, wood only. Often Western tables will have hidden metal hardware connecting tabletops to an apron below, allowing for the wood’s seasonal movement. We arrived at a design, combining Japanese and Mid-century Modern aesthetics.
From a frame-maker’s perspective, the tabletops would be the art, elevated and presented by the lightly distressed birch carcass – or frame. Originally these boards were to be made from khaya, a type of African mahogany. However, mid-way through the project, while at the lumberyard for a different purpose, we found a rare treasure: a fourteen-inch wide board of wildly grained walnut that could provide all four of the slabs required by the design. We called the client on the spot to get approval for the upgrade.
The design utilized two runners to support the slabs. These runners offered significant vertical rigidity against cupping while being narrow enough to allow for the flexing associated with latitudinal expansion and contraction.
The lower shelves are supported in the same manner, with all corners tucked within the dimensions of the carcass to avoid catching any passing ankles. The multi-layer finish, like all of our finishes, was not sprayed, but applied by hand.