Roots of Flair

My style of woodwork has been influenced predominantly by the materials I had, things I saw, and ideas I explored. Naturally, my designs have evolved over the years. While reorganizing my workshop, I found a few unfamiliar cardboard boxes. They contained some of my work from around the start of Flair Woodworks.

I will be sharing photographs along with the stories behind each item, and many will be offered for purchase.

A Topless Table

Last week’s Picture Inspiration proved to be a real challenge. We, at #Woodchat, were looking at a picture of an SR71 stealth plane.

Most of us started by looking at the actual shape of the plane and trying to relate what we saw to lines suitable for a furniture design. When I found that didn’t work, I stopped looking at what I could see and started thinking about what I couldn’t see.

This table design was my artistic representation of what I envisioned turbulence to look like.


I want to build this design!

Interestingly enough, while the design satisfied the requirement of #Woodchat’s Picture Inspiration, it also reflected on a comment that Brian Bain made on my recent post, What Defines Form:

What about a table without a top?

That seemed a little strange to me. After all, a table needs a top to be functional, right? Maybe not.

Next Picture of Inspiration

This week, the challenge is to come up with a design based on this picture. I think there will be a wide range of designs, as there always is. If you come up with something, send it to me by e-mail, or via Twitter.

Inspiration photo by Andrew Arndts

Inspiration photo by Andrew Arndts


#Woodchat’s Picture Inspiration! Design Game

#Woodchat on Air is a weekly online woodworking program hosted by Matt Gradwohl of Uppercut Woodworks, Scott Meek of Scott Meek Woodworks, and me. Watch it Wednesday nights at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern (duration: approximately 1 hour).

Last year, we at #Woodchat on Air ran the #Woodchat Telephone Game Design Experiment.  We started with one design that was handed from one participant to another to be slightly redesigned as they imagined it. It was a lot of fun to see the different designs and insightful to see how other people perceive a design, and how they would modify it.

#Woodchat’s Picture Inspiration!

Last week at #Woodchat on Air, we debuted our new design game.

This is how #Woodchat’s Picture Inspiration! works.

  1. During #Woodchat on Air, we share one or more images for inspiration. These images are taken by us, the hosts, or are shared with us by any #Woodchat on Air participant.
  2. If you choose to play, you have the next week to develop a design (or multiple designs) inspired by the image. The design can be sketched, modelled in clay, built using toothpicks, rendered in CAD, or whatever you choose.
  3. At the following #Woodchat on Air, we share the designs and invite the designers to explain their design and how they developed it.

Here is the first image that we are using, provided by Scott Meek.


I have a few ideas for a design. Tune in to #Woodchat on Air Wednesday April 23 at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern to see what I come up with for #Woodchat’s Picture Inspiration!

I will be sharing all the designs on my new page: #Woodchat’s Picture Inspiration!


Design Blogs Provide Inspiration

Reminder: tomorrow is the last day to vote for your favourite shop stools!

If you follow my Twitter or Pinterest account, you’ve seen some of the designs by other makers that intrigue or inspire me. Most of these come from the following design blogs. Among these sites, there is a considerable volume of pictures and text to process; for the short, filtered version, just follow my Pinterest board.

My Pinterest Board

These are the design blogs that I follow.


Need Some Ideas for Your Shop Stool?

Register today to participate in the Shop Stool Build-Off and a chance to win a prize!

Saturday, January 25 is the date set for the Shop Stool Build-Off. Some woodworkers I have talked to are already working on designs and expect to do some material prep (including building bending forms) before the big day arrives. Others are just going to show up on that day and build a stool, making their decisions on the fly.

If you need some inspiration to get you going, check out the images of various designs of stools I’ve gathered on a Pinterest board.

Shop Stool Build-Off Ideas Board on Pinterest

My Pinterest board of Shop Stool Build-Off Ideas (click to view)

I (along with a few other dedicated followers) are working to secure some prize sponsors for the Shop Stool Build-Off. Please register for the event using the form on the page linked at the bottom of this page.


Interior Design Show West 2013

On Saturday, I attended the Interior Design Show West, held at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Interior Design Show West Sign

Future Masters

Although I enjoyed the whole show, Future Masters, which showcases the work of design students and recent graduates, was the highlight for me.  Although this can be partially attributed to the fact that I was already familiar with the work of many of the other vendors (woodworkers especially), you’ll soon see why that isn’t the only reason I spent so much time in their booth.

The first piece that caught my attention was Wicker Coffee Table by Arthur Hobden.  This image was from his website; the prototype he brought to the show utilized birch for the table top.

Arthur Hobden - Wicker Coffee Table

Wicker Coffee Table (in mahogany) by Arthur Hobden

The table is comprised of a large bent lamination supported by a cantilevered frame made of flat steel, hidden behind a series of dowels.  I really liked the effect provided by the dowels.  However, I did not care for the open triangle which Arthur included for stability.  He and I discussed the design and possible ways to eliminate the triangle.

I took this picture of his birch prototype which showed the dowels a little better.

Arthur Hobden - Wicker Coffee Table Low

Wicker Coffee Table (in birch) by Arthur Hobden

The prismatic interior of the night club designed by Avery Titchkosky captured my attention first, but what I found really fascinating was the Scissor Stair.  It’s a very interesting form that fits two staircases into the space of one the same way as a double helix.

It took me a while to realize why the form was so interesting – one staircase, instead of running parallel to the walls, is angled at an approximately 20-degree angle.  The staircase was showed off nicely in the two-sided glass wall overlooking Vancouver’s Granville Street in his Friday Night on Granville Street rendering.

Avery Titchkosky - Scissor Stair

Scissor Stair by Avery Titchkosky

Industrial designers, Charlotte Kennedy and Xiaolu Wu, worked together to design The Three Stool.  Their goal was “to use the least amount of materials while maintaining maximum strength.”

Made predominantly from western maple, steel was also used to reinforce the stretcher.  Despite a noticeable amount of flex in the design, I felt secure sitting on the stool.

Charlotte Kennedy - The Three Stool

The Three Stool by Charlotte Kennedy and Xiaolu Wu

The team of Jason R. Miller, Kirk Loveland and Yoyo Wu also took on the challenge of creating a lightweight stool from maple.  They came up with design, which reminded me of my V-Table.  I liked the clean lines of their stool, though I wasn’t too keen on the fibre rush seat.  They also had on display a previous prototype which featured a cast aluminum seat (you can see many more of their stool ideas on Jason R. Miller’s website).

Jason Roy Miller - Isosceles

Isosceles by Jason R. Miller, Kirk Loveland and Yoyo Wo

And that is what caught my attention at the first booth I saw at the show.  According to Arthur Hobden, Future Masters was given the booth right at the entry because they put on a good show.  I had no doubt.

Around the Interior Design Show West

I always enjoy looking at all the shapes and combinations of lines in jewelry.  I liked the incorporation of a level vial in the Balance series from EvenDesign.  I suggested that they make a hair band to show whether or not someone is level-headed.

Even Design - Balance

Even Design – Balance

I also snapped these pictures of some interesting shapes in wall tiles.  I think that this one would look sharp carved into a wood panel.

Suclpted Panel The shape of these tiles made me thing about making a stool seat.

Curved Panels

Fun highlights of the show included a game of table tennis being played on a dining table at the BoConcept booth and the latest work from Judson Beaumont of Straight Line Designs, Inc.  (PS:  Next month, Judson and I are leading a seminar at Lee Valley Tools, Coquitlam on developing ideas into finished products.)


Possibilities Inspire Me

One of my greatest inspirations is the idea of improvement.  I am not content simply reproducing existing designs – I always like to try new things and new ideas.

Man seems to be a problem-seeking as well as a problem-solving animal.  We are programmed to change, develop, and meet new challenges until we die.

Anthony Storr

(Find this quote, along with many other interesting quotes on my page titled Quotables.)

As I continue along my chosen career path, I continue to realize what my strengths are and what I want to be doing.  Design is definitely of interest to me.  Honestly, I don’t have much interest in recreating something that’s already been done.  I am an innovator and I enjoy creating original work.  Every piece in my Gallery is an original design of mine.



Sometimes my creative urges are driven by necessity – when there is nothing else available that does what I want.  This is often the case with the specialized tools that I make, such as this extra-long marking knife I made from an old socket-handle chisel.

Chisel Marking Knife

Most of the time, I find myself innovating because I think that I can make it better, or at least more to my liking.  This improvement may be functional or aesthetic.  Either way, I need to make it my own design – I need to add my own touch of flair.

These are my sketches and notes for my redesign of the conversation chair.  It’s a work in progress.

Conversation Chair Sketches page1 Conversation Chair Sketches page2 Conversation Chair Sketches page3 Conversation Chair Sketches page4 Conversation Chair Sketches page5

If you’re ever stuck for inspiration, pick something that you think you can improve upon or reinterpret.  Also, while on the topic of reinterpreting, don’t forget to sign up for #Woodchat’s Telephone Game Design Experiment.

What Inspires?

Steve Ramsey of Woodworking for Mere Mortals started a new segment on his blog called Inspiration Project, asking creative people the simple question, “what inspires?”.  He asked me to kick off Inspiration Project, so I created a video (duration: 5:34)

Read Steve’s post and watch my video HERE.

Inspiration Project

Roll With It

Many woodworkers are technically skilled and able to create an item exactly as detailed in a plan.  Some lack the willingness to take risks and push the boundaries.  Technical skills are important, but they only get you so far.

Creativity and problem solving are key skills for anyone making original work.  For me, design is very instinctual and I rely on my intuition.  Most of the design decisions I make cannot be made until I’m looking at the materials in front of me.

I believe that woodworkers who are able to adapt to the unique materials and circumstances are more capable of producing something special than someone following a design to the letter.

If you remain insensitive to the individual characteristics of the material you are working with and cut regardless to a predetermined, exact measurement, then the finished piece will lack a certain wholeness and be little better than something you could have bought from a factory.

– Graham Blackburn

 You can find this quote among many others on my pages Quotables and Quotes from Woodwork.

This is the ninth slide from my PechaKucha presentation.


A Box Called “Tolerences”

Inspiration, in a Word

Last weekend, I attended a private gathering of 40 of Port Moody’s top artists.  To help everyone get to know each other, we were given an activity.  We were each given a list with everyone’s name and we were to say “hi” to everyone else and share two words that represent an inspiration to us.  To keep things interesting, I used a variety of words, often dependent on the person with whom I was talking.

Here are some of the words that I used, and a brief explanation of their meaning to me.


From my perspective, one line represents an arris (an edge).  Two lines make a surface.  Many of my sculpted edge treatments begin when I think, “what would the surface look like if these lines were connected?”.  (See Table with a Twist.)

Light (and Shadows)

The way that light interacts with a piece is very interesting and has a great effect on how the piece is perceived.  The angle of the surfaces and degree of polish determines how it reflects light.  Opaque materials block light and create shadows while translucent materials tint light.


The idea of having infinite options is overwhelming.  It is much easier to create when there are parameters established.  (See Endurance.)


The visual weight of an object is determined by where the empty space is within its cube (overall size).  A large cabinet atop spindly legs can appear lightweight, perhaps even floating, while a chest sitting directly on the ground feels very solid and immobile.


Part of the fun for me, as a creator, is watching people interact with the finished piece.  Many people walk right up to it and run their hand along it.  Others stand back and drink in the form of the piece with their eyes or admire the beauty of the wood.  (See Relationship Study.)


Tactile properties add another dimension (pun intended).  A lightly textured or contoured surface begs to be felt and invites the user to stay a moment.  It also captures light differently and highlights the irregular surface.  (See Flow.)

An Idea

Art is all about expression, and what better place to start than with an idea?  (See A Box Called “Necessessity”)


The natural beauty and character of wood is very inspiring.  The colours, grain pattern, knots, and live edges guide me when I am in need of direction.  I am also intrigued by the properties of other materials such as metal, glass, ceramics and resins.  (See Deconstructed.)


A white surface is plain, but if there is a black line across it, then it suddenly becomes interesting.  A smooth surface is ordinary but with the addition of texture, it  becomes richer.  Without something to compare to, things simply don’t have the same impact.  Of course, subtlety is useful at times.  (See Maple Slab Table.)


Live edges and the variations that are a natural part of wood are just as dramatic as anything that can be made by Man.  (See Cribbage Board 1, 2 and 3.)


If given too much thought, many ideas would never be realized.  Instead of over-thinking a concept, I try to produce it in real life.  Whether or not I like the outcome, I benefit from practicing my skills in building the model and visualizing the process.


I am always looking for new ideas to try.  When working on an unfamiliar shape, I work slowly and evaluate my process frequently.  Sometimes, while working on one shape, I discover another shape I like part way through the process.  (See Sculpted Ash Table.)

This is the eighth slide from my PechaKucha presentation.