1. Wood selection
Heartwood pieces are made with the highest quality lumber with the most consistent color and grain. In addition, the length and width of the boards are specified, so sets of parts can be selected that match perfectly. Even on widest dressers, the one-piece drawer fronts are cut from a single board, so the grain flows smoothly across the entire unit. The tops must be glued from separate boards, so they are carefully matched in grain and color in each finished piece. None of the smaller pieces are glued from cut-offs – the goal is to present the wood as it is sliced from the tree.
Because the furniture in this collection is not stained, the color of each piece must match the other pieces perfectly – the human eye is the ultimate arbiter of this process and the parts can be rejected at any time by any craftsman, ensuring that the completed piece is of the highest quality.
2. Mortise and tenon joints
Wherever structural right angles meet, a mortise and tenon joint is used. As shown in the photo, a solid wood tenon connects the two adjoining components.
The tenon secures the joint and holds it tightly together, which gives the joint its superior strength and flexibility. In high stress joints, additional glue blocks are used to ensure durability.
The furniture is glued and clamped for 24 hours using true bench-crafted assembly techniques. As a result, the joints are extremely strong and rigid, and the furniture is rock-solid. This is the time-tested process for building heirloom quality furniture, and it is adhered to completely.
3. Dovetail drawer boxes
The drawer boxes are made of solid hardwood with traditional English dovetail joinery. This method is simple, beautiful, and time-tested. The drawer box bottoms are made of plywood that is compliant with current California codes, but solid wood bottoms are available for an additional charge. All drawers are completed with a smooth hard finish that will not catch threads on clothing.
4. Floating panels
Solid hardwood floating panels are used in the sides of cases and on any doors. Each panel is fitted and inserted into the frame. This construction method allows the panel to breathe within the borders of the frame and prevents the piece from warping or cracking. Floating panels are also aesthetically pleasing by providing an element of depth in areas that would otherwise be unappealing.
Every case is assigned to one “fitter” who is allowed as much time as necessary to ensure that every door and drawer fits and works perfectly. The drawers are hand-fit to each location, and are numbered to make sure they are placed properly in the dresser. The reveal around each door and drawer must be perfect all the way around, and they must open and close smoothly and easily- no furniture is sent to shipping until everything is just right.
An oil and wax finish is used on Heartwood pieces that is based on linseed oil. This natural product brings out the color, grain, and depth of all of the hardwoods used. While it requires some care, the rich patina that develops with re-oiling is worth the effort. Finishing with oil requires a very detailed level of sanding. When you touch the furniture, you are touching the wood, not a chemical finish. Because the oil sinks into the wood, pieces must be hand sanded to a very fine grit to ensure a smooth surface. Oil finishing does not produce any VOCs. It is a natural and safe process that has been used for centuries.