Raw Materials

We are fortunate that two of our favorite materials, California walnut and Pacific maple (also called bigleaf maple), are harvested locally and sustainably. We also love using materials we find when walking out the front door of the shop, like whiteleaf manzanita and Pacific madrone, and for our prototypes, ponderosa pine.

Whenever possible we identify and harvest the trees ourselves, offering the wood a slower, more gentle drying process, which leaves it with better color, and makes it less brash and easier to work. After air-drying the lumber for one to two years, we put it into our solar kiln for final conditioning.

Much of our California walnut is wood that we have harvested, milled and dried ourselves. Sometimes homeowners ask us to remove massive, aging trees that may be threatening their buildings and pulling up their driveways. We might work with the material from a single tree for ten years or more, becoming intimately familiar with its knots, figure and color. These grand caches acquire names based on their origin, the Mahony trees and the Pump House Walnut are some of our favorites.

California Walnut, Non-Figured

We harvest this species from California's Great Central Valley. It is softer than American walnut usually darker in color and frequently has more figure. Ecologically, it is associated with riparian or streamside zones but with irrigation it can grow most anywhere. We separate the figured wood from the plain. It is about the density of cherry (.49 specific gravity).

California Walnut, Figured

A world class wood of exceptional color and pattern in the grain. It is native to our area and we always have exceptional examples of this species. Sometimes called "claro" it sometimes interbreeds with Persian (English) walnut and produces paradox or Bastogne.

American Walnut

Native to the Midwest and East this wood is lighter in color and is harder, more dense and we use it primarily for back slats.

Quilted Pacific Big-Leaf Maple

A treasure to our area. Distinctive from its Eastern cousins it sometimes has the unusual pattern of grain called "quilt". It only occurs in this species of maple. Softer than the eastern species, it is harder to work from the craftsman's perspective but the results are magnificent.

Fiddleback Pacific Maple

From the same species of tree as quilted maple it's pattern is more like a tiger's stripes, less like the boiling water of quilt.

Cherry

A classic American furniture wood, ours comes from central Pennsylvania.

Kellogg's Oak

Also known as California black oak, it is another of our local species that we enjoy working in. We use it for almost all drawers because of its ease to plane and machine.

Pacific Madrone

Unique to the West coast, it is a tree that does well in our climate. Lots of character but frequently similar in color to cherry.

Sycamore

When cut in a precise radius of the log the ray cells create a distinctive lizard skin pattern. Variable in color from light to dark. For chair work it is hard to keep the quartersawn pattern since the shaping and round sections go in and out of this orientation. Great for a table top or for the Martinez Recliner.

European Elm

A wood salvaged from trees on the California State Capital grounds in Sacramento. The wood is moderately hard and a rich brown in color.

Red Elm

This is our favorite wood for bending and laminating the back slats of our chairs. It goes well with walnut. It was the favorite wood for Henry Rushton's canoes of the 1890's, it bent well, was very strong and was rot resistant. He used it for the ½" by ½" ribs of the canoes. This wood we get from the upper Midwest.

Limed Oak

This is a traditional treatment of oak done with a liming wax. We use it on Kellogg's oak to give a whiter wood. Oak and ash have a tendency to amber as they age. This treatment preserves the lighter tone.

Ash

Light in color, extremely strong, used by early Great Plains homesteaders for sucker rod in their homemade windmills. It has a strong grain pattern and is a favorite for baseball bats. Fast growing trees in this species make stronger bats than those with tight growth rings.

Manzanita

White leaf manzanita is our local species. It is deep red in color and extremely hard. We use it for details and butterfly keys in table tops.

Leather

We use bison leather from a microtannery in Los Angeles, The Parabellum Collection. Our cowhides come from Sweden and are vegetable tanned.

Hand-Forged Iron

We love the blend of iron and wood. We use several blacksmiths to execute our designs and to incorporate theirs, including Daniel Dole, Jill Turman and Eric Clausen.