It’s easy for us to forget that when we talk about craftsmanship and the value of slow craft, it can mean something different to everyone. As woodworkers, we forget that our customers and clients may not know why certain details exist in our work, and why they are so special. This blog is for the non-woodworker-craft-enthusiasts - We’re going to explore what makes the Cradle Console an emblem of slow furniture and explore a few of its design decisions.
The Cradle Console in African Mahogany
The Cradle Console holds a special place in our workshop as each piece can live in the studio for almost a month as we complete the many different steps needed to create one. Our team gets to know each console intimately as we select the wood and meticulously craft the many components required to build this high-end piece.
Detail of the dovetails that hold the frame together
Due to its size, there is no easily mechanized way to cut all the dovetails that hold the frame together. Instead, we rely on a combination of old-fashioned hand tools and a few power tools to create the joinery. This type of joint has been utilized the world over for thousands of years. They are incredibly strong and aesthetically beautiful as they create an almost dynamic, 3D effect in the wood joint. No screws or nails here, just proper technique and patience. We’re pretty good at what we do, but the little irregularities in the joinery are proof of the hands that created them.
Another type of dovetail utilized, though not visible, is a sliding dovetail. This joint is used to attach the center dividers to the frame. The sliding dovetail is a superb choice for this as it is most accommodating to wood movement over time. Wood movement, as a rule, is always trying to cause trouble in hardwood furniture. It’s why mass furniture has shifted to laminated boards and MDF. That said, a proper understanding of how wood likes to move and the right choice of joinery for the piece in question can mitigate those issues. In our opinion, the beauty and durability of hardwood is certainly worth the effort.
Grain-matched and book-matched
Grain-matched and book-matched cabinet front
There are many ways woodworkers can choose to leverage the beauty of grain patterns. For the door fronts on this African Mahogany Cradle Console, we use two such techniques to create a visually striking and one-of-a-kind impression. First, the door fronts are grain matched. That means, we took the trouble to cut these pieces from continuous pieces of wood. As your eye travels from one side of the piece to the other, the grain flows uninterrupted. It’s a small detail that takes patience to execute right... and you only get one shot! The second method used is called bookmatching, and if you look closely, the patterns in the doors are mirrored vertically. To achieve this, our team carefully slices a single board down the middle, then opens the two pieces up like a book.
Choosing the right hardware for a piece can be a challenging endeavor. We strive to partner with the best makers for durable and hardwearing knobs/pulls. For this piece, we went with solid bronze knobs from xx. They have just the right amount of heft, and suit the style of the console perfectly.
Detail of the cabinet knobs
Providing this quality of work is certainly a time-consuming step in the process, but cutting corners and saving time isn't really our style. When it comes to a piece that will likely live in someone's family for multiple generations, we like the idea that there are fine details to discover and rediscover as the years roll by.