Video of Matching Shaker Style Walnut End Tables

Check out the video of these handmade shaker walnut night tables created for a client who wanted the unique character of walnut balanced with the simplicity of the Shaker style. The Vermont-made piece adds accent and atmosphere with traditional warmth to any living space. Table measures 18″ x 22″ x 26″.
If you like these tables, you might also want to check out handmade cherry shaker end tables.

The “Looking For Love” Cherry Computer Desk

The inspiration for the ‘Looking for Love Computer Desk’ came from a client who inquired about the Cherry Lovers Computer Desk – which was designed for a couple who wanted to share their workspace. The client requested a similar custom handmade desk for one person, and we could only imagine that at some point he would look for, and find, love at this handsome desk.

Check out the video of this beautiful handmade cherry computer desk features a 60″ long work-surface, and was inspired by a similar desk that I built for a couple looking to share their workspace.

The History of Desks Part 2: The Computer Desk

I recently put up a post on the history of the writing desk. Furniture makers perfected the writing desk in the 17th century, but the history of desks marched on. The advent of the typewriter and the computer resulted in specialized adaptations that are still being improved on today, and we can expect new forms of the computer desk to emerge in the future.

custom handmade cherry desk

In order to really understand the history of the computer desk, we have to go back to where it began once again.

The Bargueño (Again)

I covered the bargueño in detail in my other post. In short, it’s one of the very earliest desks. It was made of two pieces: the top, which had a fall-front writing surface that could be closed to conceal the numerous drawers, and the base, which consisted of either a table or a chest of drawers.

The bargueño made a decent standing desk and a beautiful piece of furniture. The two-part design also made it relatively easy to transport.

Soon, similar pieces began to emerge in other parts of Europe, such as …

The Escritoire

The escritoire style of writing desk showed up in France about a century after the bargueño made its first appearance. This is probably the earliest form of desk that most people today would recognize. It stood on legs instead of a solid base, allowing the user to pull up a chair and fit their knees underneath. However, most were still designed with standing in mind, and were too tall to sit at.

Much like the bargueño, the escritoire had ample storage, with several drawers and pigeonholes behind the writing surface. Some also had the same fall-front design that allowed the user to close the desk.

The Kneehole Desk

For some, the storage space behind the writing surface of an escritoire simply wasn’t enough. They wanted all of the advantages of the bargueño’s chest-of-drawers base. They also wanted to sit down.

This gave rise to one of the simplest but most brilliant innovations in the history of desks: the kneehole. Desks were designed with a solid base full of drawers and storage, with just one gap for the user’s legs.

This design can be seen in classics like the bureau Mazarin, the partner desk, and the rolltop desk.

"Rolltop desk." Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

“Rolltop desk.” Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Adapting to Typewriters

The typewriter completely changed the purpose of the desk. Instead of needing only to resist the light scratching of pen on paper, they had to stand up to the punishment of writers slamming away endlessly on 20-pound machines.

The very strong and stable design of the kneehole desk made it more and more popular. The steel tanker desk was one of the most common toward the end of this period, showing up in the late 1940s and staying in use until about the time computers were popularized.

The rise in the number of office workers also meant that desks needed to be cheap. Mass manufacturing became the norm, and handcrafted desks all but disappeared.

The Shift to Computers

The appearance and refinement of computers meant a gradual shift away from heavy loads for the desk. Computer keyboards required less pressure per keystroke than a typewriter, and computers themselves were generally lighter, especially as time went on. The ability to store files on a computer rather than using up reams of paper also meant that physical storage became less and less of a priority.


Today, computer desks show up in a wide variety of forms, specialized to individual jobs and preferences. Some are little different from the kneehole desks that were in use before and during the time of the typewriter. Others look remarkably similar to the French escritoire. Still more are simple and streamlined, with a flat surface and one or two drawers.

With the amount of time that everyone spends on computers now, ergonomics have also become increasingly important. More and more people are turning to adjustable or customized computer desks to reduce the risk of repetitive motion injury. The need to live a less sedentary lifestyle has also caused many people to return to standing desks.

cherry walnut stand up computer desk handmade

I certainly believe this is a change for the better, and I’m voting with my work. I build computer desks that are customized to height and body metrics to provide the best ergonomics possible. While I still offer sitting desks, I’m also proud to offer standing versions.

Working at a computer doesn’t need to be hazardous to your health, nor does it need to be done on a mass-produced papier-mâché “work surface.” Get in touch with me and we can start designing the computer desk you’ve always wanted today.

The History of Desks: The Writing Desk

The history of desks holds a number of surprises—not the least of which is that, after centuries of development and innovation, many of us are turning back to some of the earliest desk styles.

The writing desk was developed in the 17th century by combining several earlier innovations. Despite falling out of favor thanks to the typewriter and the computer, it’s begun making a resurgence in recent years.

Here’s how the writing desk came about:
Cherry Writing Desk

The First Desks

While people have written for more than 5,000 years, nobody thought to create furniture specifically for writing until about the 1400s. At this point in history, the printing press had not yet been invented, and monks spent month after month transcribing books by hand. They needed something to make their grueling job easier.


“Escribano” by Jean Le Tavernier – [1]. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. To take some of the strain out of their backs and necks, medieval writers began using slanted work surfaces. These allowed them to hold their work up at a more natural angle.

In addition to working well for writing, these work surfaces made it easier to read, holding up books and parchment at head height. The end result was similar to reading on a modern computer screen.

The Bargueño

Around the same time, the Spanish invented the bargueño. This was an early version of the fall-front desk, with numerous drawers and a front that could be opened and lowered to serve as a writing surface.

When closed, it looked much like a chest. This compact design made it easy to carry around.

The bargueño did not come with legs attached. Instead, it was often built as part of a two-piece set, with a small table or chest of drawers designed to support it.

The Bible Box

As time went on, the printing press came about and reading became more popular. More and more people could afford their own Bible, and writing started to become more a part of everyday life. The everyman soon needed a way to write and to protect his books and papers.

A popular solution was the “Bible box.” As the name suggests, a large part of its purpose was serving as a storage box. However, it had a slanted writing surface like that used by the monks. This writing surface was hinged at the top, so you could simply pull it back and store your things inside.

Much like the bargueño, the Bible box did not stand on legs. The user would have to place it on a table or another surface to write.

Bradshawhall at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons.

The Desk Box

The Bible box allowed ample storage, but its size made it clumsy. Many turned to a smaller, lighter solution: the desk box. This followed the same principles of design on a more portable scale.

The desk box allowed its owners to hold their work surface on their laps. It could also be placed on a table.

A desk box could have had all of the features shown here, just without the legs.

Despite its emphasis on portability, the desk box often had plenty of internal storage. In addition to having the hinged lid of a Bible box, it sometimes had drawers and additional compartments.

The Writing Desk

In the late 1600s, people began looking for a way to make a dedicated piece of writing furniture that still had the advantages of the desk box. The first solution was to add legs to bring it to proper writing height. This got rid of the need to find a table that was just tall enough or to hold a heavy desk box in one’s lap. However, that came at the cost of the desk box’s prized portability.

Some clever furniture makers, perhaps inspired by the Spanish bargueño, decided to make two-piece writing desks. The top—the desk box—could then be removed from the stand. Owners could now pull the desk into two parts, making it easier to transport and allowing them to adjust the height by moving the desk box to a different surface.

This writing desk design proved itself as one of the most versatile in the history of desks. Even today, it’s a popular choice.

I love this style of writing desk. It’s attractive, it’s useful, and I even find it fun to build. I’d go so far as to say it’s my specialty piece. If you’re interested in having me build one for you, take a look at the handmade desks I’ve built to find out what appeals to you, or go ahead and call or contact me online. I look forward to hearing from you!

I plan to write more on the history of desks soon. If you share my fascination with this subject, then don’t forget to come back later to learn more.

The Hunt for the Perfect Desk Design

Desk design matters because a desk is more than a piece of furniture. Some desks are the place where their owner will spend a third of his or her life making a living. Others are creative spaces where novels are written, works of art are designed, and songs are composed.

With all of these responsibilities, your desk plays a vital role in your life. A bad one will make every day harder. If yours is anything less than exactly what you need, then the hunt for the perfect desk design must begin.


You’ve taken the time and money to get a house with a view, you’ve painted the walls your favorite color, and you mow your lawn and wash your car religiously—but every day, you sit down to work at a desk made of compressed wood pulp and plastic. It greets you every morning with all the inviting warmth of Alcatraz.

If you wonder why you lose all of your ambition the moment you sit down to work each morning, this could be the answer.

Consider switching to a cherry computer desk or walnut stand-up writing desk. One of these beautiful hardwoods will make your workplace warmer and more attractive. It will even feel more pleasant to the touch. Instead of feeling like you’re sitting in the jaws of a trap, you’ll start to feel like your desk is a second home.


You need the desk design that’s right for your job. Most people need something primarily designed to work with computers, so a computer desk is the obvious choice.

Those who need loads of storage and plenty of space to spread out should consider a classic secretary desk. These desks feature a large working surface, drawers, shelves, cabinets, and enough bookshelves to keep a small reference library in arm’s reach.

If you want a writing desk that’s easy to transport, consider one with a removable top. I build stand-up writing desks that include this feature. In addition to helping you move the desk, it allows you to place it on tables so it will stand at a different height.

Health Concerns

Everyone knows that their work has a huge impact on their physical and mental health—but few stop to consider their workspace.

Your environment will always have a major effect on you. To maximize your effectiveness and happiness at work, you need to take into account everything from sunlight levels to desk design.

You don’t need to believe in feng shui to take this seriously. Researchers are starting to look carefully at the way workspace design affects health. Doctors have debated this topic in centuries past, and I believe it will soon become a major issue for scientific discussion.

On top of design and appearance possibly affecting mood and efficiency, there are concrete health issues. Sitting too much and using poor ergonomics can wreak havoc on your body. See my thoughts on ergonomic standing desks to learn more.

With the perfect desk, I’m sure you’ll feel healthier, happier, and more productive. Get in touch and we’ll start looking for the design that’s right for you today.

Custom Cherry Conference Table for a Web Design Company

I was recently approached by a local Vermont web design company about building a custom conference table for their new office in downtown Burlington. They wanted something a a little different than what I typically build for custom cherry tables, but given our history of working together, I was happy to oblige. Although it may look like a typical piece of office furniture from afar, the beautiful cherry top has a remarkable texture, and one of a kind character. Here’s a quick video of the table from when it was delivered.

Why I Build Cherry Furniture

As a woodworker, I have a close relationship with my materials. The wood I use determines the nature of both the building process and the final product. For these reasons and others, there is one wood I love working with the most: cherry. Cherry furniture is as much a pleasure to make as it is to own.

A True Native

Black cherry is native to North and South America and is part of Vermont’s heritage. Its fruit plays an important part in our local food chain, and those who spend enough time in the woods know it as one of our black bears’ favorite foods.

Cherry also holds a proud place in the history of American woodworking. Early U.S. furniture makers, like the Shakers, quickly realized that they had a world-class cabinetwood on their hands. They used cherry and other northern hardwoods to eliminate our dependence on foreign timber, making quality furniture entirely from local materials.
Shaker Bookcase

A Color that Ages Like Wine

Cherry has the most beautiful color of any wood. It often begins light and even pinkish, but it deepens into a darker, richer shade with sunlight and time. This is a desirable process, much like the formation of verdigris on a copper weathervane.
Stand Up Writing Desk
Of course, nobody wants uneven coloration. I take extra care with cherry in the workshop to prevent the sun from darkening it in sections. This is especially critical in the early stages, before the wood has any sort of coating.

An Exceptional Grain

Just like tiger maple, cherry features a gorgeous quilted appearance. Lines cross back and forth, opposing the grain. This is a large part of what makes it such a wonderful material.

This exceptional grain affects more than appearance; it lends cherry furniture a uniquely soft and smooth texture.
Mission Style Dressing Table
The grain is also just different in ways I can’t describe, ways that separate it even from outwardly similar woods like tiger maple and walnut. It’s much easier to work. When I’m creating with cherry, my vision for the completed piece seems to simply flow into existence.

A Durable Hardwood

Cherry is as strong as it is beautiful. It has enough spring in it to avoid snapping under a sudden impact, and it is hard enough to resist scratching and to stand firm beneath a heavy load (all within reason, of course).

I can’t recommend cherry furniture strongly enough. Such pieces are practical and hardy enough to use every day and attractive enough to become family treasures. There’s nothing else I’d rather build.

Shaker Furniture: Beauty in Simplicity

When people ask me what style of furniture I enjoy building the most, I never have to think twice before answering. In my mind, Shaker furniture is unrivaled.

The Shakers believed in simplicity, and this belief is apparent in every piece of Shaker furniture. You won’t find inlays or other intricate decorations on one.

The idea behind this approach was to prevent feelings of pride. However, I don’t think it’s possible for a furniture maker to not take pride in his or her work, and the Shakers found ways to make furniture beautiful while still abiding by the tenets of their religion. Using subtle joinery and paying careful attention to detail, they transformed “simple” into gorgeous, functional and durable.
Old Lyme Shaker Bed

A Timeless Style

The minimalist design makes the Shaker style timeless. Other styles come and go, but eventually, most seem gaudy or dated. The no-frills, no-flaws appearance of Shaker furniture won’t fall victim to this; it will always look the way a piece of furniture should.

Plato claimed that, while there are many tables built in many styles, they are all built to match one pure, essential form. I believe the Shakers made something closer to the pure table than anybody else before or since—and the same goes for the other furniture they crafted.
Shaker Dining Table in Maple
This is why the Shaker style has lasted for centuries. While the religion is functionally extinct, the principles of design and standards of quality show no sign of disappearing. It continues to stand as a unique tradition and a major influence on modern styles.

Because it has such a powerful effect on today’s designers, Shaker pieces often blend in seamlessly with existing décor, even in ultra-modern homes.
Shaker Style Cherry Computer Desk

An American Tradition

Although Shaker furniture has universal appeal, it is a distinctly American style with especially strong roots in New England. In fact, it became popular as a direct result of the Revolutionary War. The Shakers only used local U.S. woods like cherry, walnut and maple. When people began hunting for ways to furnish their homes without supporting the British, many turned to the Shakers. The style became immensely popular.

History repeats itself. While I doubt that many Americans today hold any grudge against the British, we’re all looking for ways to support more local and domestic businesses. Buying handcrafted Shaker furniture is still a great way to do this.

The Shaker style will always be my favorite. Its influence pervades all of my work, and can be seen even in my pieces that aren’t explicitly Shaker. This simple, functional, eye-catching way of building furniture strikes a chord with me that nothing else has matched.

Click to see some of my handcrafted Shaker furniture. If you share my appreciation for this tradition, I’m sure you’ll find something that calls to you.

Handmade Shaker Drop Leaf Harvest Dining Table

A handcrafted dining table is often one of the first pieces a new client will choose for their home. At Hawk Ridge Furniture we’re honored to create these places where important decisions will be made, meals will be shared and occasions celebrated. If there’s one particular handmade table that tugs at my heartstrings, it’s the simple Shaker-inspired drop leaf table pictured below.

Custom Harvest Dining Table in Cherry

The drop leaf table has been around for centuries. At Hawk Ridge we craft a piece with the highest quality Cherry wood in a simple, polished design, featuring the honorable addition of a time-tested rule joint in place of hinges, to raise and lower the leaves. And while considered an American classic, today’s economy of space has inspired a bit of new interest in the style. You’ll find a drop leaf table not just in grandmother’s kitchen or parlor, but in modern offices, hallways and family rooms where they serve as a console side or end table until duty calls. The convertible nature is a favorite of designers and decorators for apartment, cottage or studio living. It’s a favorite of clients who value flexibility and function in handcrafted home décor.

Custom Bow-Shaped Harvest Dining TableBow-Shaped Harvest Dining Table in Cherry


And we couldn’t do this multi-functional beauty justice without a moment of focus on the tricky joint itself. A rather difficult one to master, Paul’s got it down. He makes sure the table top and the leaves are an exact match in thickness. He designs a perfectly sculpted fillet and radius (above right) and shapes the cove of the leaf to rest smoothly atop the radius’ arc when it’s engaged, bringing the edges to a perfect match. No cookie crumbs sneaking in! The craftsmanship and brilliance of the rule joint drop leaf table produces an heirloom piece that will withstand the hustle and bustle of daily life with classic and simple beauty. Handcrafted with purpose in the Vermont workshop of Hawk Ridge Furniture.

Handmade Shaker Walnut Trestle Table

This particular table features a boat-shaped top whose grains form a beautiful teardrop shape. The wood is a rich, chocolate brown color with a hand-rubbed smooth finish. Although this model was specifically designed as a dining table, the trestle table is versatile and can be used for any purpose. The table also disassembles easily, making it a snap to move anywhere you please.

View more specific product information about this shaker trestle table or check out our entire line of custom dining room tables.

Handmade Pennsylvania Corner Cupboard

I designed this corner cupboard based on a 1830′s rural southeastern Pennsylvania cherry corner cupboard design. The basic design includes a true divided lite door above, one drawer and two doors below.

This custom handmade piece features bunn feet, dovetail joinery, brass hinges and pulls, and cock beaded drawer fronts. It’s a beautiful and durable heirloom piece. View the Pennsylvania Corner Cupboard or our entire line of cupboard styles here, thanks!

Handmade Mission Cherry Dressing Table


I’m currently working on this Mission cherry dressing table specially ordered by a client who preferred Mission style to my Shaker style dressing table. I really enjoyed working with the highly-figured cherry, enhanced by a pigmented oil finish. Handmade with the finest select hardwood, the natural beauty of the cherry is complimented by ball-peen hammered brass pulls.
Three hand-cut dovetail drawers and swivel mirror add a simple but elegant practicality. The mitered tilting mirror fits into a cherry frame allowing free movement. The drawers provide space for all manner of accessories.
Combining natural beauty with the practical but elegant Mission style, this fully-functional piece adds much to any bedroom setting, making a proud addition to any family heirloom. If you prefer another style, I can fashion a custom design to fit your needs.

Handmade Hardwood Shaker Hall Table: Adding Elegance to Any Home


Shaker-style furniture is simple but elegant

Shaker furniture is known for its simplicity, innovative construction, quality, and usability. It was developed by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing—a religious group that came to America from England in 1774—also known as the “Shakers”. The ascetic religious beliefs of the Society inspired the design of Shake furniture, which they made for their own use and for sale to the public.
The underlying principles of Shaker design have given inspiration to some of the finest designers of modern furniture. Collections of Shaker furniture are maintained by art and historical museums in the U.S. and U.K., as well as in numerous private collections around the world.

Popular examples of Shaker furniture survive today—especially a variety of tables, chairs, desks and shaker beds.

Handmade Shaker hall table utilizes traditional Shaker building techniques and design

Shaker furniture design and construction techniques inspire and enhance the handmade hardwood Shaker hall table from Hawkridge Furniture. Constructed with premium hand-selected hardwoods—birch, maple, cherry, walnut, and sustainably-harvested mahogany—this custom heirloom piece is fashioned with traditional mortise-and-tenon joinery.
The hall table has unique character accents and design features that balance Shaker simplicity—while sacrificing none of the durability or functionality. The flaming hardwood top, dovetailed drawer, and tapered legs—all hand-rubbed and waxed with natural oil—add a touch of elegance to any hallway, and atmosphere with traditional warmth to any home.

The table measures 15″x42″x30″and comes standard with hammered, antique-finish brass knobs.

If you like this shaker table, you can buy it here.

Hawkridge Furniture will design a custom table

Hawkridge Furniture handmade pieces reflect maker Paul Donio’s love of history and craftsmanship prevalent in periods from which he draws inspiration—such as Shaker. With a deep respect for traditional joinery and fine woodworking, he creates each piece of custom furniture with a design and build as unique as the future owner.

Cherry Stand up Computer Desk and Companion Chair

In this video you will see the shaker stand up computer desk in cherry from previous posts that now features a handmade stool for those who care to sit. The chair will be offered as a possible companion piece for those interested. You can view Hawk Ridge Furniture’s complete line of Vermont studio made desks. This set makes a perfect gift for the home or office!

Tiger Maple Dining Room Table with Turned Legs

Check out the tiger maple dining room table with turned legs that I recently completed and delivered to the clients home in Lyme, Connecticut.  This handmade dining table makes a wonderful formal or casual dining experience.  Click here to view product specs and buy online.

Cherry Stand Up Computer Desk Shop Photos

Check out the cherry stand up computer desk I’ve been working on, view photos of the piece in progress and finished product below. This computer desk makes an ideal working environment for home or office. Click here to view product specs and buy online. 

Old Lyme Bed – a Custom Order for a CT Customer

Wooden Colonial Bed Handmade in VermontI recently delivered a bed to Connecticut for a family which has ordered multiple pieces over the years. This bed is similar in design to another piece they ordered previously. The destination for this new piece was a room with amazing views. The client desired to elevate the bedstead this time so that they could have an unobstructed view of the ocean.  This required is a departure from my typical design. The height of the headboard posts are 48″ to accommodate a  headboard that is 20″ in height. This increase in height gives the piece more weight, and provides more surface to display the grain of the wood.

If you are wondering about this bed’s name, it is named for Old Lyme CT, one of the earliest settlements in New England, located at the mouth of the Connecticut River as it enters Long Island Sound. The furniture styles from the early colonial days of New England continue to influence the design of new pieces commissioned for homes in the area. We pay tribute to that history with the naming of the bed and with the lines which evoke the earliest designs of four poster beds in colonial America.

As a result of this original custom order, it now joins the rest of my collection as an option for anyone to request. Just give me a call!

A custom coffee table project: ponderings on the origin of the name

drawing-room-side-tableWhile laying out a full scale drawing of my current project (a mission style coffee table), I could not help but ponder where it got its name – and how it evolved.

Apparently the origins of the coffee table are not exactly known.  It is, however, thought that it developed in Britain in the middle of the 18th century.  It is more than likely that the coffee table evolved from an earlier beverage, tea – the tea of choice at that time. Tea tables were taller and placed behind the tall-backed settee of the time.
By end of the 18th century, furniture design and taste shifted to a slightly lower back and this influenced the height of the table. Moved, now, to the front or side of the settee, the tables became lower as well. Once coffee became common in the British isles, the design took on Anglo-Japanese influences with an even lower height. In the listings of Victorian Furniture by R. W. Reynolds & BB Whinery and The Country Life Book of English Furniture by Edward T. Joy, a table designed by E Goodwin in 1868 and made in large numbers by William Watt, Collinson, and Lock, it became known as a coffee table.

Ponderings aside, the gallery below shows the evolution of creating this handmade piece.

Phase 1:  Full scale drawing, list of parts, mill the parts
Phase 2:  Prepare the joinery and dry fit
Phase 3: Glue up
Phase 4: Finish work; with chisels, scrapers and sandpapers; sand top separately, attach the top to the base; apply tung oil

In the course of one week, I began and completed this piece and delivered it to a long-standing customer in Stowe, Vermont. I welcome your comments and am happy to answer questions about creating a custom piece for your home.


Custom platform beds: a contemporary interpretation of an historic furniture design

Given that the average person spends 1/3 of his or her life sleeping, a bed is probably the most important piece of furniture you will ever purchase. Mattresses aside, the design and construction of the bed frame itself determines whether it will withstand the test of time. Will you still like it in 30 years? Will it be one of the pieces of heirloom furniture that is so beautiful and solid that your family will pass it down from generation to generation?

What began in the 12th century as raised wooden bedsteads heavy and ornately carved, became much simpler wood frames by the 14th century for several reasons. First, draperies were added which covered up the frame, as a demonstration of wealth and luxury. Those added layers of fabric also provided a practical element against the cold. An additional influence was the ease of transport, as the wealthy brought all these belongings with them during their travels. Styles in the 17th and 18thcenturies returned to more elaborate, ornate designs reflecting the style of the day and the importance of bedchambers as a place to receive visitors. Can you imagine?

Regardless of style, the construction of those early hardwood bedsteads involved mortise and tenon bedframes that carried the mattress via ropes woven into the side rails. (Those ropes regularly required tightening, reflected in the “sleep tight” expression still used today.) It wasn’t until the invention of the box spring in the mid 1800’s that rope-style support became less common.

So, what historical influences are seen in a Hawkridge Furniture bed?

Cherry Pencil Post Bed Handmade in VermontHawkridge Furniture has chosen to feature a unique blend of the ancient and the recent in its collection of shaker inspired platform beds. I use the construction techniques of the oldest historical examples with designs that reflect the simple construction of the 1300s and Shaker design from the early 1800s. The simple, clean lines of a Hawkridge bed will simply not go out of style. At any time, bed linens and other décor can bring an ornate sensibility if desired.

Construction Details

Walnut Wooden Post BedAll of our designs make use of the traditional – and most durable – mortise and tenon construction technique. The wood for the posts and rails is significantly more substantial than commercial products, yet retains an elegant line. We begin with six-quarter wood for the side rails and end quarter for end rails. I place 6-7 inch bed bolts through the mortised post and into the tenon of the bed rail. The nut goes into the post and covered with a matching escutcheon. (The bolts, from Horton Brasses, are also beautiful enough to leave exposed if desired.) The connection is so secure that you could dance on the bed; it will last well beyond your lifetime.

Compare this construction to any commercially made bed. Their thinner stock bed rails, metal hooks where tenons should be, thin metal mortised to the post, and end-grain side or foot rails may not withstand even your own use, let alone a next generation’s. The sheer stress of the design and thinner wood will simply not hold up over time.

So, what about the platform itself?

Custom Cherry Wood Platform BedPlatform beds describe a bed frame with a solid surface that requires only a mattress. The best-known examples of early wood platform beds have been found in Egyptian burial tombs, including those of King Tutankhamun. Platform beds today often feature particleboard; for an upgrade, you can sometimes select a plywood board. Although technically not “platform”, slatted supports are also sometimes used in lieu of a boxspring and marketed as “platform” beds. However, slats don’t fasten well to the frame, and are prone to breakage.

My platform is constructed out of maple slats positioned vertically between two pieces of 5/8″ thick Baltic Birch. This “honeycomb” construction is the strongest platform construction you will find. Each bed’s platform comes in three equal-sized “plywood sandwiches” for easy assembly and transport.

Can I still use a Box Spring?

Box springs are fading like dinosaurs, but if you plan to use one, the height of the headboard has to be adjusted. In general, the height from floor to bottom of the rails is 8 – 9 inches.  The space from rails to headboard will then be determined by the mattress and/or box spring. In addition, king size beds and California kings often need an additional foot at the center of the platform.

Why invest in a Hawkridge bed?

  • Solid construction that can last for generations
  • Design that reflects the function you need
  • Style that will meet the test of time

Most orders involve some level of customization, so let’s chat about creating the perfect bed for you. You can reach me at 802.535.4473 or

Custom standing desks: return to being active at work

Stand-up desks were popular fixtures in homes and offices two and three centuries ago.  Like so many designs, these tall desks are back in high demand. Most of the products on the market are high-tech, adjustable and – to be honest – ugly pieces of furniture. In their quest to be one-size fits all, the commercial manufacturers have given customers very few choices.

Inspired by a desire to be more active, individuals have come to us to order a stand-up desk that is customized just for them. Our expertise is designing writing desks and computer desks that suit the unique demands of particular tasks with comforts that address the ergonomic requirements of the individual.  The width and angle of the desktop is dictated by the task, while the height must reflect the point at which the user’s hands are in a comfortable position to write, type, or engage in some other creative task.  All our standing desks include a foot rail to allow the user to alter his or her stance and reduce fatigue.

Some of the questions we ask during the design process:

  • What is influencing your decision to stand at your desk?
  • What’s the primary task at this desk?
  • What is the height where your hands are comfortably placed for that task?
  • How tall are you?
  • Will you use a laptop on this surface?
  • How about a monitor?
  • Is the keyboard wired or wireless?
  • Would you like a drawer?
  • Would a hinged surface work for you?

We can incorporate a deeper, flat area behind a hinged lid for folks who plan to use a large monitor or iMac but also want the hidden storage of a lift-top surface. A keyboard drawer or tray can also be included to allow the hand-height to be lower and the monitor to be a bit higher.  If only a laptop will be used, ergonomics will dictate that the overall height will be a bit lower than you might expect.

One of the especially useful aspects of a Hawk Ridge standing desk is that it has two components: the surface of the desk and the frame on which it rests. This harkens back to Federal designs and even the portable writing desks that were popular when trains were the main mode of transportation. That allows the owner to move the surface of the desk to another location if desired – and makes shipping easier as well.

The health benefits of standing while working have been documented in dozens of studies and articles in the past few years. Our customers have stated that standing at their desk lifts their spirits – it leaves them energized rather than tense from sitting.

Customers select Hawk Ridge Furniture when they’re looking for an heirloom-quality standing desk that is a stunningly beautiful addition to their workspace at home or office, not just another high-tech gadget. We find it rewarding to build a desk for someone who will be using it for a long time because it has been customized just for them.

Get in touch with Paul to place an order for your own!

Handmade Dressers

As beautiful as they are functional, a craftsman can create a number of unique handmade dressers by calling on the wealth of designs and fashions of centuries past that are still popular today. Modern handmade bedroom dressers can meld styles, such as Queen Anne, Shaker and Mission styles of furniture, to match the style and color of any wooden bed and bedside table. Other sideboard dressers often feature a combination of natural woods to accentuate a frame and panel construction that creates a unique aesthetic to match any dining room’s décor.

The same dovetail joinery that craftsmen use to create sturdy handmade desks is also used to build elegant tops, sides and drawers of handmade dressers. The body of the dresser, or the carcass, is held together with dovetail joints that add an element of design as well as making it extremely strong. Other dressers employ frame and panel construction that is highlighted by mortise and tenon joinery that is accented with wooden pins.  Combining both techniques for any style of handmade dresser is what makes the carcass durable and the drawers move in and out smoothly.

Among the many styles of handmade wooden furniture that are still favored today is the Queen Anne style. The Queen Anne style of handmade wooden furniture was first made popular in America between 1720 to 1760 and can be distinguished from other styles by the signature cyma, or S-curve, that is seen in the feet of a dresser or chair, and may also be worked into other parts of a piece of furniture. These S-curves blend well with modern styles of decorating by softening the look of a heavy piece of furniture with the gentle curves.

Originally made from walnut, the Queen Anne style of furniture is a singularly Colonial American style. Today, handmade dressers of this style can be found made from any natural wood, such as cherry, butternut, maple or mahogany. Butternut wood is from the walnut tree family, and is celebrated for its warmer, honey-colored tones with contrasting darker grains.

An artisan will also delight in mixing types of wood for a more modern-looking handmade dresser. Hardwood knobs on the drawers of a bedroom dresser can be made from darker rainforest woods or even brass. The top of the dresser might feature darker dovetail details to bring an understated accent of beauty to an otherwise basic dresser. Studio furniture makers have the freedom to enjoy playing with the combinations of natural woods, knobs and joinery methods to create dressers that are truly unique and tailored to a client’s specific style preferences.

Another style of handmade dressers that is still popular today is the Shaker style. Originating in the late 1700’s, the Shaker style is revered for its clean lines, durable features and innovative joinery methods. Distinctive features include an arched apron and tapered legs, which looks graceful and unimposing.

Shaker-style sideboards were originally minimal in decoration, but craftsmen today add modern touches to this timeless style by blending the types of wood in the paneling. By contrasting natural woods, such as maple and walnut, the artisan can accentuate the beauty of the panel doors and drawers. Pointedly practical, these Shaker-style sideboard dressers are excellent for storing dining dishes or fine china, and the hand-rubbed dresser tops can exhibit ornamental decorations but are elegant enough to simply stand alone.

Shaker-style sideboards can be made to look more modern by blending natural types of wood, accenting a solid-colored sideboard with darker or lighter hardwood knobs or even by using glass paneling in the doors. The visible glass contrasts especially with the darker rainforest woods for a modern, open aesthetic.

Studio handmade dressers differ greatly from factory-made dressers in that studio-furniture makers have the creative freedom to mix and match classic styles with modern demands. Whereas factory-made furniture is made to appeal to most people’s styles and preferences, studio-furniture makers create one-of-a-kind handmade dressers for one-of-a-kind clients. We realize not everyone has the same taste or needs, which is why working directly with an artisan can be a rewarding process for both the furniture-maker and the client.

What To Look For In a Handmade Desk

A handmade desk adds both a function and a unique aesthetic to any space in your home or workplace. Craftsmen who specialize in studio furniture, or one-of-a-kind or limited production furniture, are skilled at choosing the wood for each project to highlight both the character of the wood and the function and style of the piece of furniture.

Whether a craftsman is building a traditional cherry or walnut secretary or a modern mahogany stand up writing desk, he will often use a combination of traditional joinery and modern furniture making techniques in its creation.

First and foremost, a fine quality desk is both beautiful and ergonomic in its design.  Not only should the desk be pleasing to the eye, but the design should also reflect the intention for its use. For example, a secretary tends to be ornate in design, has many drawers and cubbyholes to store desk items, but might make a poor computer desk. A more modern flattop desk is more likely to comfortably hold either a desktop computer or a laptop.

The design should therefore reflect a consideration of its use.  A flattop desk should be spacious enough to comfortably fit a computer of various sizes without crowding the rest of the space. The height of the desk should also be comfortable for most people’s height to sit and work at for long periods of time.

If there are mounted bookshelves on top of the flattop desk, they shelves should reasonably be able to house a books of a few different sizes. For any style desk, it should be built with skill so that you want to use it for its intended purpose. A high quality desk is functional for your use, and elegant to look at.

Beyond the functionality of the desk, an experienced craftsman will skillfully highlight the natural elegance and simplicity of the wood he is working with. When a desk is expertly made, even a person without any knowledge about furniture will appreciate the grain of the wood, the texture of the surface, and the quality of the color of the natural wood.

Regardless of the style of desk, a finely made handcrafted desk should start from the best materials. Mahogany is a favorite among craftsmen for its versatility and density, which allows artisans to easily match up the grain of each piece of wood. Maple, cherry and walnut woods are also excellent choices to work with, as hand rubbed natural oils easily accentuate the natural beauty and character of the wood.

When you are considering what kind of handmade desk to purchase, you should ask yourself if you value the design over function, or the function over design. A traditional secretary desk, for example, is extremely elegant in design, but once opened reveals the organizational qualities that gave its reputation as a “secretary.”  A shaker flat top desk, on the other hand, offers a functional space to spread out on while celebrating its simplicity of design.  Depending on what you are looking for, a skilled craftsman can help you create a design that will work well for your specific needs.

Studio furniture-makers differ from factory-made furniture because the craftsman typically focuses on one piece of furniture at a time. The craftsman starts by hand-selecting the wood with a specific piece of furniture in mind. He will then treat the wood, work with high-grade veneers and carefully prepare the pieces of wood according to the pattern. In doing so, the craftsman will work to bring out the beauty in the specific pieces of wood so that the final product looks unique, even if it is a common style.

Because of the level of detail that studio furniture-makers go into, it is rare that you will find a “cookie cutter” piece of high quality handmade wood furniture. Finely crafted furniture is an investment for the home, but a craftsman should feel comfortable guaranteeing their handiwork to make sure your fine, handmade desk becomes a family heirloom in years to come.

The mission of Mission furniture

Recently I had a client who was interested in a pair of bedside tables.  He wasn’t exactly sure of what style they should be, but he knew he wanted something simple, with clean lines and demonstrably handcrafted.  After some discussion we agreed that Mission style fit the bill.

Mission style was popular at the turn of the 20th century, influenced by wood furniture of the Spanish missions in California and also by the British Arts and Crafts movement.   The movement was pioneered by Gustav Stickley and the architects Charles and Henry Greene, emphasizing humane design in the midst of the industrial age.  I believe that Mission style was also a reaction to the ornate excesses of the Victorian period.  Mission furniture design was utilitarian and organic, using simple materials and construction to highlight the values of the integrity of man’s labor and connection to nature.

As I was building these Mission style end tables I could not help but reflect on how “what goes around comes around”.  Here we are in the midst of the information age, once again yearning for things that are simple, grounded in nature and handcrafted.

Structure and sawdust

This is my first-ever blog post. I knew that my past life as an English major would come in handy at some point!

Today I was immersed in two very different stages of the furniture making process. Milling out 7′ long cherry boards for a trestle-style conference table produced an enormous quantity of sawdust. I’m glad to be able to pass this material on for others to use–my wife mulches her garden paths with it, and a neighbor appreciates its absorptive properties on the floor of his food processing facility.

As the individual boards began to approach their final dimensions, I was able to roughly layout the table top for the first time. Struck by the sheer mass of the solid hardwood top, I decided to re-evaluate my trestle base design. I cut out a plywood template and used this to determine the stress points, curvature and exact joint dimensions. I beefed it up a little from the spec that I quoted on, just to be certain that it had the strength needed to last long term. pd