Dining Room Table
California Valley Oak + Aluminum [70"x42"]
When he was at graduate school at UC Berkeley and I was three or so, took the family up to a friend's property in Sonoma County for a picnic and while there, helped the friend mill part of a big old California Valley Oak tree that had been taken down on the property. My dad was into wood working, and hoped he could do something with it but between getting his degree, working full time and having three kids never managed to do anything with the wood so it sat in our yard for 25 years. Until I went to graduate school, in fact.
In Stanford's design program, second year students do a project called a "Personal Statement." You get two weeks to build/make anything you want. Anything. People make all kinds of crazy, beautiful, amazing, bizarre and very personal things - and each somehow perfectly reflects them. Knowing this and my penchant for the functional and conscientious, I landed on building a table from the wood that had lain unused for all these years.
It took a lot of work to get the 2"+ boards into shape. I also chose to use aluminum for the frame (my grandfather was a metallurgical engineer and specialized in aluminum - I was trying pretty hard for "meaningful"), despite only ever having welded steel previously and had to nearly start over and go through several design modifications. I also wanted matching wood for the legs (the same species) which isn't commercially available because when California Valley Oak dries, it tends to warp pretty severely. I persevered (read: went completely over the top obsessed) and found a guy 60 miles away who took down urban trees and milled them for specialty wood projects and had a single 12' 3"x3" stock that would work perfectly for the legs.
I had a few other design requirements - I needed to be able to move it easily (the legs slide in and out of metal sockets with no additional fixtures, they're held in through fit alone) and it had to last me the rest of my life. So far, so good.
Birch & Steel [20"x20"]
Craig Milroy at the Product Realization Lab teaches a low-key hand woodworking course that covers the basics of hand tools (chisels, planes and saws mostly) and how to care for and use them. As a quick project in the last few weeks of class, I put together this bedside table to give myself a little practice with all the tools (and throw in some more welding, with metal left over from another project).
I wanted a simple and straightforward table that would hold a few things down below but not feel heavy. For playfulness, I carved feet inserts for the legs that are held in place without adhesives or fixtures. The lower shelf is easily detachable, as is the top. The steel is unfinished. The birch finished with linseed oil.
The Honeywagon: a bike cart
Redwood + Powder-coated Steel
For a year and a half after some tumultuous life events for both of us, I lived with my grandmother in the East Bay. She lived in a house she and my grandfather had designed and built over 40 years before, when the area was still mostly walnut groves. It was close the downtown, accessible along oak-lined pathways and quiet neighborhood streets easily by foot or bike - unless you were unable to go the mile or so to get there, like my grandma. It pained me to jump in a car every time we needed to go somewhere close, but we didn't have an alternative. So I built the Honeywagon.
It was designed so my grandmother and I (or my dog, an aging but terribly sweet 60 lb. Australian Shepherd x Bernese Mountain Dog named Moose) could come with me and enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous setting without needing a car.