Texture and the Canadian Furniture Maker

Community: Canada - Furniture makers across the country have been using texture with huge success. Here’s a collection of some great examples of texture in furniture, as well as some details about how it was produced.  


Texture and the Canadian Furniture Maker

Arnim Rodeck
Uralt Door (German for “very old door”)
Reclaimed pine, white oak, reclaimed ash

The core of this door is the old reclaimed pine. The wood was in relative poor condition and the challenge was to make it look and feel good. I also wanted to preserve the aged outer layers. After cleaning and bleaching the wood, I hand-carved and scraped the surfaces to create the appearance I was looking for. Then I stained it, sanded it (to leave the stain only in the deeper parts), stained it with a lighter colour, then finished it with Danish oil.

Marilyn Campbell
Bon Vivant
Holly, resin, pigment, purpleheart (stand)
6 1/2"h x 5 1/2"w x 2 1/2"d
Photos by Marilyn Campbell

Texture was added with a dremel tool on both the resin components (black) and the central piece of holly. Only a few dremel bits suffice for all of the texturing in my repertoire. A simple ball-tip engraving cutter was used for the dots that outline the black resin and also for the stipple texture on the holly. Piercing of the resin was done with a bit that has the cutting teeth on the side rather than the end. A background texture was applied overall with a rounded-end silicon carbide grinding stone. 

John Wiggers
Alina Table
Adobe oak (top), cerused limed oak (legs)
Designed by Mitchell Pickard
Photo by John Glos

I was trying to create a consistent, uniform pattern with the texture. I initially considered doing it with a gouge, but found that my technique would not end up being consistent across the entire face. Therefore, I used an overhead router with ball-nose tool (with a series of slotted patterns on the underside to guide a pin) to make multiple series of shallow, elongated cuts at slightly varying depths. The net result ended up being consistent, but it was differentiated enough to created a textured effect that looks like a series of waves rippling across the top.

Michael Moore
Carved Chair
Ebonized yellow cedar, silk
Inspired by Kristina Madsen’s original from 1993.

The chair was made in 2007 for the Furniture Society Conference show at the University of Victoria in BC. I chose to do a carved piece and used yellow cedar, as it’s nice to carve. I had never carved before so I taught myself to carve in order to do this piece. In terms of the design, all I had to go on was one photo in the Furniture Studio book “The Heart of the Functional Arts”. I knew that making a copy of an original piece for a show was going to be controversial. It was fun to watch, as some people didn’t care, but others were greatly affected by the new knowledge. The carving took 22 days, and the rest of the chair another eight, for a total of 30 days. The finish is ebonized with aniline dye stain and tinted clear lacquer. There was a long debate about going with the black colour, as the natural yellow was quite nice. However, the carving seemed to jump right out once I did a sample with the black.


James Esworthy
It Hangs in Balance
Douglas Fir
9'h x 7'w x 6"d
Photo by James Esworthy

An outline of the BC coast was drawn onto the surface of the doors, then small gouges were used to remove material and depict the Pacific Ocean. The borders of the cabinets are lines of latitude and longitude.

Douglas Fisher
Prologue to the Past
Fiddleback Big Leaf Maple
20 1/4" diameter x 2" d
Photo by Douglas Fisher

This wall sculpture was turned off-center and off-axis on a wood lathe. The relief in the center square was carved using various sizes of rotary bits, then final texture in all areas was achieved with pyrography pens.

Karen McBride
Feather Bed
Walnut, cocobolo
Photos by Chris Solar

The texturing on cocobolo is created with a pneumatic die grinder fitted with several different sized carbide burrs. I create a random pattern by overlapping the gouges made by the burr. A sharp burr creates a smooth gouge so no sanding or clean up is required. The work is tedious but the effect is well worth it.


Michael Hosaluk
Madrone burl
16" H x 5" W x 4" D (tallest)

Photos by Trent Watts

I turn a series of rings from one end to the other, then remove the piece from the lathe, and then randomly remove many sections with a handsaw. I then carve the material away with chisel and mallet, then finish the effect with a Foredom rotary tool.

Many years ago, when I was teaching a class at Arrowmont, we went through the aquarium and when we returned we used ideas of colour and texture that were influenced by the field trip. That was one of my textures.

Federico Mendez
Untitled Wall Sculpture
48" x 9" x 2"
Photo by Lance Smith

Technique: I used my plunge router with a 5/16" diameter, round nose bit. Carving with a router can be very dangerous. Holding the router properly, and being as careful as possible is an absolute must. Depending on the speed, angle and bit you can achieve a variety of textures. I would definitely not recommend this technique to most people.

Juan Carlos Fernandez
Bubinga, pear
11 1/8” W, 18 ½” H, and 5 1/16” D

I named it Zulu for two reasons. Bubinga comes from Africa and, more importantly, because of the Zulu warrior spear head depicted on the front panel. To accentuate this feature, I added texture with a 1/3” wide gouge. I spent about six hours adding the texture

Francis Lemieuz
Louvered Screen
Maple, cherry
Photos by Shamina Senaratne

The texture was produced with a dado blade and tablesaw. I then ripped the strips and reassembled them in a staggered pattern. This is a very repetitive process


Seiji Kuwabara
Adzed bench
Red cedar, walnut

It was the clients’ request to match a totem pole they build in their house, the wood for the bench was a leftover from the totem pole. The carving was done by hand with a Haida knife, scraping one hollow at a time. A number of passes are required for each recess. Each recess was then sanded by hand. Beacuase this is usually applied to a convex surface such as a totem pole, this bench posed quite a challenge as it was all flat surfaces

Ian Godfrey
White oak, Danish cord
Photos by Ingeborg Suzanne

The inspiration for Danish cord came from the works of Hans Wegner, Borge Morgensen and a bench by Mark Edmundson. It is a paper product whose weave pattern adds a pleasant texture and form fitting solution to upholstery. It’s a labout-intensive process but it adds a lot of tactile qualities to a piece of furniture


Marcel Joanisse
Fireplace Screen
Paduak, basswood
Photos by Marcel Joanisse

I designed it on paper, the cut and shaped the frame. I drew the designs on both sides of the Basswood pieces then spent 600 hours chip carving them by hand.

Related Articles

A Marriage of Textures

Wood Turning: There are many skills and techniques involved in woodturning: skill with the tools and an eye for design are the first two that come to mind. In addition to acquiring these skills and techniques, there is often a quest...

Dryburgh Pattern Maker’s Planes

Tool Collections: Doug Evans is a huge tool fan, and has a wonderful collection of tools. His crowning piece, however, is a set of Dryburgh pattern maker’s planes, made in Canada in the 1880s.

Veritas Cabinetmaker's Trimming Plane

Shop Tested