Joe Laviolette
17 posts and 7 followers
1259 views, 10 comments and 1 fave in


Trying to branch out into mid century modern inspired contemporary, and I needed a place in my office to put all my stuff. This is the result

Carcass is solid ash, drawer boxes are 1/2" baltic birch ply lined with canvas, the accents are some lighter air dried walnut I had. The drawer pulls are one piece, and the top drawer has a sliding tray.

I’ve always avoided using color in my work, this time I really dove in. The sliding door is 1/2" baltic birch ply painted a really vivid blue. Shooting solvent paint is a lot more difficult than shooting finishes. It’s really easy to get fat edges.

The case is finished with a lengthy process I have come to enjoy:

Step 1 – Pore fill by hand with watco teak oil and 4F pumice. I use the teak oil because it is UV stable. I don’t want the Ash or the walnut to color shift. After pore filling I apply another coat and sand with 800 grit paper

Step 2 – My own wiping varnish. Some BLO, some pure tung, some solvent, and an alkid resin. I do 3 coats

Step 3 – “French polish”. I put it in quotes because I stop well before the extreme gloss sets in. I am going for the upper end of semi gloss so 2 or 3 light padding sessions take care of it

Step 4 – Wax. I like the tactile feel of wax, but I also like to keep most of the gloss. To achieve this I apply the wax similar to applying a french polish, but the pad is just wet with water. I was surprised how glossy wax can get if you add a little water

A lot of had tool work here, in fact this is mostly done without electricity. I did use a dado stack to cut the rabbets because I don’t have a rabbet or plow plane yet. My attempt at a saw kerf and a chisel only ended in frustration and a shorter carcass.

More pictures
Raw materials and a little cross cutting

Scrub Planing

Edge jointing

Squaring things up (the second time around)

Some clamps and some hot hide glue

That is gorgeous. Exactly the kind of stuff I want to make. I love the colors. Very bold. Excellent work!

-- Losing fingers since 1969

Thanks. The desk is next.

I admire the hand tool work.
You created a nice piece. I like the embedded drawer handle.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Nice work Joe ……. although as someone who was around when that furniture was popular, I will never be a fan of “mid century”.
Doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the craftsmanship though. :-)

….and I really like your leg vice/vise!

-- The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

When I built my office I considered painting the drawer fronts in bright colors. My wife was completely against that and I didn’t do it. I ended up staining and painting the insides of the drawers different colors – each section a different color.

-- Losing fingers since 1969

I really like this; sleek, modern, colourful and unique. Well done!

-- Rob, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

I like it. At the same time subtle and then in your face.

nice nice.

-- Tor and Odin are the greatest of gods.

Thanks everyone.

Paul, to be honest I am not a fan of traditional MCM. I do like the contemporary spin a lot of European designers are putting on it now. I wish I did something different for the feet. I love that vise! Thanks a lot for the design (and logo). I use it for everything. the wedge is finally starting to split on me. I thought it would long before now because the grain orientation is not ideal. I just used what I had at the time. But I’ve got some quartersawn hickory ready to take it’s place

Madts – that’s what I was going for. I intentionally kept the joinery really simple so it wouldn’t draw any attention. The drawer pulls are unique, but really I just made my life easier fitting the drawer fronts. There are about half a dozen screws in that dado under the walnut :)

Excellent work Joe and a beautiful design.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway

Amazing build great case.

-- woodworking classes, custom furniture maker