Archive for October, 2010

Bloodwood Butterfly table

By , 11 October, 2010, 2 Comments

Project:  Small  conference table

Client:  New Horizons Hardwoods

Material:  Bloodwood (Brosimum Rubescens)

Date completed:  October 11, 2010

Finish:  Three coats of brushed-on Polyurethane, followed by two coats of wipe-on Polyurethane, with a final wax coat buffed on.

Project parameters:  The table will be in a small showroom surrounded by samples of exotic hardwoods.  The client requested a design that would soften the feel of the room by contrasting with the square room and straight lines.  The approximate dimensions of the table needed to be 30″ in height by 36″ wide and 48″ long.

Design elements:  When we selected the Bloodwood material for this project, one board with an unusual pattern on it stood out – a pattern that resembled half a butterfly.  That was selected as the focal point of the piece and the rest of the table designed around that theme.  The curved shape of the legs and the curves in the one shelf play into that butterfly shape and also lend themselves to the nature of the material.  The shelf was beveled on the bottom side to give it a thin appearance without compromising its strength, since it also serves as a brace for the legs.  Oddly enough, there are 26 individual boards in this table, but there is only one that does not have a curve of some sort cut into it.

Notes:  Bloodwood is hard!  Hardness in wood is measured in pounds per square inch (psi) needed to press a nearly 1/2″ steel ball halfway into the wood.  When compared to Oak at 1,300 psi, and Hickory at 1,600, Bloodwood registers all the way up to 2,900 psi.   Extremely durable stuff!  As with alot of durable hardwoods, the weight goes up with the durability, and Bloodwood tips the scale at 50-60 lbs/sq ft.  Oak, by comparison is in the 40 lbs/sq foot range.  The challenges of working with Bloodwood are outweighed by the end result… an amazingly beautiful material.

Nobody wants stinky furniture

By , 4 October, 2010, No Comment

I’ve mentioned in past blogs how we use a formaldehyde-free plywood material in the shop and how we try to be careful in our selection of other sourced raw materials.  The wood that we build with is only one of several components of furniture and cabinetry that can pose some health risks, however.  In fact, the amount of formaldehyde that outgasses from plywood is fairly minimal compared to the nasty odors put off by the finishes that are applied to most furniture.

When I first began in the industry, I was lucky enough to work in a shop that sprayed primarily waterborne finishes.  Waterbornes have been around for a long time, but were not widely used in the industry due to some difficulties in application and the durability of the end product.  In the last ten years or so, the waterborne finish side of the industry has made tremendous strides and now those finishes are just as durable if not moreso than their solvent-based counterparts.

So what, right?  Well, there are a couple of things you need to know about furniture and cabinetry finishes.  Namely, VOC’s and HAP’s.  VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds and everyone knows what they are (they just don’t know that they know).  VOC’s are any organic compound that readily evaporates into the atmosphere at room temperature.  Gasoline, for instance, emits VOC’s.  It’s the smell.  And breathing VOC’s is not good for your health.

The second thing is HAP’s.  That stands for Hazardous Airborne Pollutants, and everyone knows what those are as well (and, yep, they still don’t know that they know).  HAP’s are toxic and are carried on the air in a small particulate form.  Asbestos is the one that everyone knows about.  Nasty stuff.  Don’t want to breathe it.

VOC’s and HAP’s are similar in their adverse ill health effects, the difference being that one is a gas and the other is a solid (albeit a very small solid).  Both of these things can make you sick, give you cancer or otherwise ruin your day.

Which brings us back around to waterborne finishes.  The finishes we spray are ultra-low VOC and zero HAP’s coatings.  Which means that they are not only friendly for us to use in the shop, but they are good for you in the home.  Being water based instead of mineral spirit based, they do not evaporate into the atmosphere like solvent- based finishes do (so they don’t stink).  And since they contain no HAP’s, or airborne toxins, I don’t have to worry about what I’m breathing.

The issue of safe materials, whether wood or paint, goes beyond the shop.  These products that we build end up in your homes.  You live with them.  Your family and friends sit at them, eat on them, sleep on them.  We pride ourselves on high quality furniture and cabinetry and believe that means more than just using the right wood.  It means using the best materials, in the right design, with the right construction methods and the right finish.  Because your home should make you happy, both inside and out.