One of the features of a single-slab table that we and our clients love the most is the presence of figure, and this Claro Walnut table is probably one of the most intensely-figured we’ve ever built. “Figure” refers to those patterns you’ll see throughout this tabletop of light and dark resembling the appearance of, say, a mountain range on a physical map. There are many categories of figure, which bleed into and overlap each other, but they are all essentially a phenomenon in which the physical properties of the wood cause it to reflect light in interesting, unusual ways. The alternating dark and light sections you see here are even more arresting in person, and they shift and roll as one views them from different angles. This visual effect is called “chatoyancy”, a term shared with a similar effect present in some gemstones. (To me, it’s always recalled the light bending properties of holographic baseball cards of my youth, less the rainbow colors.)
You might be familiar with birds-eye maple, which is one of the most well-known forms of figure, and you might recognize tiger-stripe or fiddleback figure from the bodies of stringed instruments, whose makers seek them out specifically. The specific causes of figure remain unclear, beyond the fact that it appears when the wood grain has grown in wavy patterns. There are certain conditions that make certain types of figure more likely, but the truth is that there’s virtually no way of knowing what the inside of the tree will look like until it’s been felled and opened up. Furthermore, while we can generally tell how highly figured a given piece of material is when it comes through our doors, the process of flattening, sanding, and finishing the wood enhances its appearance tremendously.
Claro walnut – actually a result of grafting and cross-pollination between eastern European and native American walnut species – grows in the American Northwest, and offers some of the most dramatic figure and coloration of any walnut variety. With a natural, live-edge outlines and the beauty inherent in the grain and tones of Claro, tables like this give us the chance to bring the elegance of the outdoors into our clients’ homes. A warm oil finish rounds things out and emphasizes the visual depth of the material.
No matter how much figure is present in the wood, our furniture is always beautiful, functional, and built to last for generations. To see a piece that is more, perhaps, reserved than the one above, but every bit as fit to its space, click the link below.
If you’re ready to start a furniture project that you’ll never get tired of seeing, fill in the “Contact” form here on the site, email email@example.com, or call us at 857-567-2089. We hope to hear from you soon.