Getting a glimpse into the world of furniture-making not only helps one understand the process of how handcrafted furniture comes together, but also leaves one with a greater appreciation for the nuances that go into crafting each unique piece.
Recently, Guild member John Lomas created a beautiful sideboard that featured a gorgeous inlay. Lomas put together a video documenting the process of crafting the inlay (link to video found at the bottom of this blog). For the inlay, he used wenge wood, a dark African wood.
Finding the perfect wood to complement the wenge was a challenge. “Of the locally available temperate hardwoods I most commonly use to craft custom furniture, Cherry and Walnut tend to be the most popular,” Lomas explains. He chooses these woods because of their unique mix of qualities and availability here in Vermont. But none of them would do for the sideboard, matching dining table, and chairs. Only quartered white oak fit the bill, and Lomas was thrilled. “…as an Englishman who learned his craft in the beautiful countryside of The Cotswolds, Quartered White Oak used to be the wood of choice. I love it – the grain is gorgeous, it’s extremely dense and the connection to furniture history has always appealed to me.”
So began his hunt for white oak. He exhausted every local supplier, and it wasn’t until he looked in Saranac Lake, NY, that he found just the right wood. With white oak in hand, Lomas had exactly what he needed to bring his vision to life.
The contrast between the woods was used to create a motif. In the video, you will see the table with matching inlay. The motif was designed to mimic the foot of the sideboard and base of the matching tabletop, creating the boundaries of the piece. The wenge frame at the base of the piece twists and turns around the legs, just as it does in the sideboard top, giving it a nice vertical symmetry. The wenge further defines each door panel, which you’ll notice makes the figure of the white oak stand out. The dark highlights also match the handles and knobs to complete the piece, which results in a mirrored look that makes the eye flow around the sideboard.
Take a look at Lomas’s great video on how he created the inlay. In it, you also get a glimpse at the matching table.