This design is largely based off of the work of a famous woodworker named James Krenov. His style is elegant in its simplicity of form, but incorporates high levels of detail. In some sense, that's an oxymoron (a simple high level of detail), but if you take a moment to google image search his work, or look at examples on his website, you will immediately see what I mean. Wikipedia states it well:
"[Krenov] shun[ed] ostentatious and overly sculpted pieces, stains, sanded surfaces, and unbalanced or unproportional constructions. Krenov felt that details such as uniformly rounded edges, perfectly flat surfaces, and sharp corners remove the personal touch from a piece of furniture. His books extoll the virtues of clean lines, hand-planed surfaces, unfinished or lightly finished wood[...]."
The detail, to Krenov, is the wood itself. It is the grain pattern, the color, the contours.
Lots of pictures follow after the jump...
I feel Krenov's influence in much of my work. I prefer simple edges to detailed router work. All I did to the edges of this piece (and what I typically do) is just to "break" them by running sandpaper over them. It softens the edges slightly, but that's it. I rarely, if ever, personally choose to stain wood so that it's natural color and beauty can be seen. I stained nothing on this piece.
One thing I feel describes Krenov's work, and it was a guiding force in my design of this piece, is that the work has an Asian, particularly Japanese, feel. His work often is evocative of the gateways to Shinto temples, known as Torii. I was targeting a similar feeling.
For example, look at the legs. I incorporated two tapers. The leg starts out as two inch by two inch square, but halfway down I tapered it to a one inch by one inch square. The effect I was going for was to make the piece feel lighter.
The taper is especially visible in this picture.
I chose walnut because of its rich color. I feel that anchoring the bottom of the piece with a darker wood accentuated the light feeling I was going for. Also, walnut is beautiful. The grain is striking. The color is rich. Also, it's strong and works easily.
Bird's eye maple is a variety of maple with a distinctive pattern of tiny eye-shapes that appear in the grain pattern of the wood. The more bird's eyes, the more valuable the wood. According to the wikipedia article, the exact cause of the pattern isn't known. I have heard it's a genetic abnormality that causes the pattern. If it's good enough for Wolverine, it's good enough for me.
That's just a closeup picture of the top of the table. It should give you a good view of the bird's eyes.
Here you can see the drawer that I built into the face of the piece. Drawers aren't interesting. Bloodwood trim and handles, on the other hand, are. Bloodwood is an exotic hardwood from South America. Its natural color is that extremely vivid, rich, red. I bought a board of bloodwood for some chessboards I was building (post to come on them). This was what I had left over. It makes exceptional trim. As you can see, I used it to ring the bird's eye surface.
I also used it for the drawer handle. With no slight intended to the tapered legs, which I love, this is my favorite part of the piece. It fits the Japanese-Shinto-Krenov influenced aesthetic that I was going for perfectly. It also shows off an exotic hardwood, which is always a good thing.
I love the way it turned out. I could go on, but this is already a long post. If you have any questions about it, as always, feel free to ask.