Favorite Woods

Table top of quilted maple
Many people ask me if I have a favorite wood. Two actually.  Big Leaf Maple and Walnut.  We are lucky in the Northwest in having these two very spectacular species to work with.  Our native maple, Big Leaf Maple, occasionally sports an unusual growth pattern that gives rise to dramatic figure in the wood called “quilt” and “curl.” Perhaps one in a thousand trees will have intensely quilted wood.  I love to use it in my furniture.  Finishing it is an experience.  You never know exactly how great the figure is until you put the final finish to it, and it is exciting to see what you’ve really got! Sometimes it is breathtaking.

Our other spectacular species is Claro Walnut, a species native to the San Joaquin valley in Northern California. It is used extensively as rootstock in California and Oregon for English Walnut.  Claro is a deep rich brown marbled with lighter, darker and reddish streaks and can be figured with “curls” as well.

For some people, wood is wood, either light or dark - just a building material until someone forms something with it. These two woods are for people with a deeper appreciation for wood. Furniture made out of these woods is really a celebration of the wonders and beauty of nature, and I think furniture made with these woods is about the wood. 

The icing on the cake, though, is that these are sustainable woods. Big Leaf Maple grows right through our urban neighborhoods as well as throughout the countryside, and the commercial value of Claro as rootstock would seem to assure its continued existence. In an age we are causing the rapid extinction of so many species, this is critically important.


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Fine furniture, Camano Island, marquetry