When canoe tripping, the hard-edged pieces of your kitchen gear are often the hardest to pack comfortably. Also, you want to be able to find the exact items of food when you need them, not rummage around the bottom of a backpack. There is a tradition of using a hard-sided box for this, but they are typically heavy themselves and their rectangular shape doesn't fit the rounded bottom of a canoe very well. Also, if the box is deep, you have the same problem that you have with a packsack. My design is made from aircraft plywood for lightness and it has a curved form, for strength. This also allows it to nestle into the bottom of the canoe. Multiple boxes can be used, stacked up for portaging and side-by-side in the canoe. Because these modules are not so deep, it’s easy to find what you are looking for. As well, the box doesn’t extend above the gunwales, thereby not creating a windage problem. They also make handy seats or tables at the campsite, and are light enough to sling up a tree if you want to keep your food out of the reach of bears.
When I was producing a line of concrete furniture, my sales reps needed a sample case to let their customers know what colour and texture options were available to them. Concrete is heavy and this created a number of problems. My largest concern was the potential damage to the tables that the case would be placed upon. By giving the bottom of the case a sinuous edge, the hinge is concealed both when the case is up right as well as when it is unfolded for presentation, by the wave pattern nesting into itself. Double handles ensure that the case was given a good grip and there is no chance that a catch might fail.
This is just a detail of a table that I was commissioned to make, by someone what had a strong interest in traditional Chinese furniture. Unlike the traditional tables, the one I made was designed to support a circular piece of glass, but it also retained a strong reference to the traditional rectangular designs.
This project had its start in a commission to produce a cigar box as a retirement gift. I wanted to make something that seemed to fit the cigars, rather than it just being a box into which the cigars were placed. The core of the box is milled in a linear way, much like an extrusion. A length of it is then stopped, or capped by an inset simple plane, both top and bottom. Another simple plane lies between these, forming a lid. I wanted to make something that fit the purpose as well as possible with a minimum number of pieces, components and even shapes. The one I kept for myself holds pencils which also works very well.
This is my first ‘production’ design, dating back to my student years. By beveling a rectangular board in opposite ways on opposite edges, the board is always easy to pick up, even with wet hands, and to carry. As well, what is cut is easy to sweep off, into your hand, for instance, even when the board remains flat on a counter. I find it works well and use one every day.
After getting a whiteboard to facilitate my shop's scheduling, I thought that I would make a desktop micro version, for those things that I especially wanted to be reminded or which were special and which could be easily changed, without the hassle of putting things into frames. It seems like it was a timely idea, or at least popular, as there have been many subsequent versions of the same thing.
When I was doing a lot of custom furniture in the seventies, I had a lot of off-cuts of exotic woods that seemed too precious to throw away. I designed this series of small boxes to utilize my scraps. They were designed to easily fill ones hand – to fit comfortably into ones palm. The shapes were very rounded to make them tactile. I used contrasting woods for the bottoms and tops. The tops pivoted out of the way, making a pleasing swishing sound. The insides did not have an applied finish, so that the pleasant natural scent of the wood would waft out.
I designed and made these tables early in the first decade of this century. They are based on a cast aluminum hub that accepts legs or struts in many configurations, wedging them securely in place via a concealed fastener. There are supplemental castings that secure the top to the base and separate the legs from the floor. Because the design is a system based on a hub, there are innumerable sizes, shapes, profiles and configurations, which are possible.
A client asked me, sometime in the mid 90's, for a portfolio case. I made a number of them. What I wanted to accomplish was that the portfolio case itself would announce the contents, in some way. That it would reflect a certain set of values. This commodious case can be easily carried and its soft leather surface will allow it to be placed on any table without risk to either the case or the table. Opening the case will mimic the act of unwrapping a gift and the individual portfolio pages can then be removed and discussed at the presenter’s own pace, under their direct control. There will be an element of ritual at the beginning and throughout the presentation, which I felt could be useful and effective.
Here are two versions of a puzzle box that I designed and made. There is a larger version with drawers and a simpler version with open spaces. In both cases, the method of opening them is not obvious and must be discovered before the contents can be revealed. There are other versions of puzzles in the drawers.
After having made a number of benches which were more complex, I set myself the challenge of making a bench which was reduced to as few elements as possible. A single length of wood, selected for its dimensions and its visual interest, is mitered and folded together. In order to make the most of this simple construction, the joining edges are rounded over in such a way as to draw attention to the joint as well as to create both visual and tactile interest. The outer edges of the planes of the bench are also rounded over to provide greater comfort. Some of these were made with a flat top and some had their tops dished. I made versions which were incrementally smaller and nested under each other, as well as ones on castors.
This custom table was designed and mid a few years ago, for a cottage in Georgian Bay. The old growth Fir wood that was used was reclaimed from the bottom of the Fraser River, in BC, an earlier logging casualty now given a second chance. There is an aluminum channel that serves as a bracing rail, connecting a pair of legs and allowing the legs to be attached to the top.
When my daughter Tova was quite young, I received a commission for a bed from someone else with a young daughter. So I made two beds. The horizontal frame and legs are of White Ash. The headboard and drawer are Black walnut.