St John's valet

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Project by hickeymad posted 10-09-2014 12:58 AM 3068 views 11 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a project I recently completed for the Lumber to Legacy program auction in Albany Oregon ( The lumber was salvaged from a construction project in Albany that removed seven very large native Oregon White Oaks. The trees were donated to the city and milled by a local sawyer named Mark Azevedo. The lumber was air then kiln dried and distributed to local artisans as well as a group of high school kids to turn into projects to be sold at auction on November 9 of this year. The proceeds will be used to purchase additional white oak habitat for the enjoyment of future generations- a task that is much needed as there is very little of this native habitat left in the state.

Oregon is an interesting place to practice this craft. Though not wholly rich in proper furniture-woods like the forests of my youth, there is a newness of culture and an independent spirit here that is much to my liking. Teaming with local sawyers like Mark Azevedo has allowed me to bring a sense of place to my work with the use of native woods. There ARE very good species for furniture here in Oregon, they just take a little more work to uncover. I feel that a northwest style has yet to be defined and feel privileged to take part in the modern studio furniture renaissance.

My piece for the Lumber to Legacy project began with a need for more storage space for our growing family. As the father of two young girls, we had a coat and shoe problem. As I pondered a solution, I looked to a local Oregon landmark; the St. Johns Bridge. I’ve always admired its flying buttresses and gothic arches.   I was an engineer in another life and thought “what better representation of the engineers craft than a bridge”?

The St. Johns Valet features an abundance of coat hooks, both front and back. I used a Japanese finishing technique on the shoe cabinet called shou-sugi-ban, in which the sides of the case are charred with a propane torch, then scrubbed clean of charcoal prior to oiling and waxing. It leaves a textured and blackened surface that perfectly represents the actual bridges asphalt deck.
The oak procured from the Hackleman grove had a few interior checks which I left and filled with black tinted epoxy.  I did this on purpose rather than scrap the wood and start over. The checks are representative of the poor state of the Nation’s bridges and other infrastructure- a fact that the former engineer in me would be remiss to neglect to represent.

I topped the shoe cabinet with a hand-carved walnut pull, meant to represent the automobile age in it’s angular appearance. The front of the piece features a fall-front door which swings down on spring-loaded pin hinges I devised and reveals two shelves of shoe storage space. Larger shoes fit in the bottom shelf. The back is designed to hold things like umbrellas, walking sticks and tennis rackets.

I am very pleased with how this piece turned out and am hopeful that I am afforded the opportunity to work with the City of Albany and it’s Lumber to Legacy Project yet again.

The last photo is of one of the Hackleman grove Oregon white oak trees that the lumber for this project came from.

More of my work can be seen at my website;

12 comments so far

View kiefer's profile


5713 posts in 3398 days

#1 posted 10-09-2014 01:22 AM

Nice interpretation of a local landmark in a piece of furniture .
I much appreciate you describing the charring process which I really like and find very interesting ,something I have to try .


-- Kiefer

View sras's profile


5418 posts in 3860 days

#2 posted 10-09-2014 01:28 AM

I have to tell you I really like this piece. An excellent job of representing the St John’s bridge (my favorite of all Portland’s bridges) as well as adding meaning to the other elements.

First class!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View hickeymad's profile


158 posts in 3741 days

#3 posted 10-09-2014 02:02 AM

Kiefer; Try the shou-sugi-ban technique on a wood with a significant difference in hardness between the early and late wood. Version one of this project had the cabinet made of hemlock, and the shou-sugi-ban really added a lot of very interesting texture. One other tip is to try and apply the flame evenly- in fact, a larger torch would work best. It is hard to get an even char otherwise. I did not get the evenness nor the texture with the oak- I had to apply a bit of india ink to even out the color.

sras and kiefer; I really appreciate the “likes” and comments- I am a bit worried about the auction- it is such a “portland” piece- I hope it sells in Albany!

View DocSavage45's profile


8932 posts in 3574 days

#4 posted 10-09-2014 02:23 AM

Great story. I’m sure it will do well due to the character you have given the piece.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Dandog's profile


250 posts in 3505 days

#5 posted 10-09-2014 02:45 AM

True art work representing historical architecture

-- life an woodworking is one big experiment

View oldskoolmodder's profile


802 posts in 4411 days

#6 posted 10-09-2014 02:52 AM

This is a fine example of the wood telling you what it wanted to be turned in to.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3159 days

#7 posted 10-09-2014 04:05 AM

Bravo!! But we need one last photo showing the valet in its entirety please…

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View DaveGlx's profile


365 posts in 3175 days

#8 posted 10-09-2014 06:07 AM

Great job. I like the narrative and the clever functional design/

-- Dave -

View Ken90712's profile


17865 posts in 3920 days

#9 posted 10-09-2014 08:49 AM

Great story and Build. Well done.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View drewpy's profile


1002 posts in 2088 days

#10 posted 10-09-2014 07:07 PM

Nice story and the piece turned out great. I like the design and it’s inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View Oaker's profile


55 posts in 2065 days

#11 posted 10-10-2014 12:31 AM

Great story and a great build.

-- Larry - Illinois

View GnarlyErik's profile


330 posts in 2866 days

#12 posted 10-10-2014 03:16 AM

Very innovative and clever. I don’t see why anyone would not appreciate this piece.

Thanks for sharing . . .

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

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