The sources of what we do at City Joinery are the time-honored techniques of furniture making. This means that while we constantly invent new forms and methods, and generally believe in pushing the boundaries of our craft, we use many of the same tools and techniques employed by our ancestors. But we don’t stop there.

We are as likely to hand plane a table’s edge as to rely on the might of a three phase five horsepower, state-of-the-art thickness planer. We use the best approach for the job. Ecumenical in our choice of tools and techniques, we do consider our furniture “hand made” in that we assemble it one piece at a time in our Brooklyn shop. However, we do not adhere to a quaint notion that furniture made exclusively by hand is somehow superior to that made with machines. Indeed, we are grateful for technological innovation!

Above all, we depend on our hands and eyes to achieve a high level of perfection. These are the true tools of our craft.

The following glossary describes some of the terms related to our kind of furniture making; please visit the Materials section of this website for more information.

Gentle Tapers
Furniture designers and makers have been using tapers for centuries in table, chair, and cabinet legs. The basic techniques for cutting them are known to most woodworkers. We have found them so structurally expressive, however, that we have found places and techniques for cutting them in ways few have tried. The underside of a table top is one example, where the tapering of an edge gives the form a lofty dynamism. Another is the edge of a vertical solid panel.

 

Metal Floating Splines
This is a technique that we may have pioneered. It involves using a metal extrusion to connect two pieces of wood that are expanding and contracting (because of fluctuations in relative humidity) towards one another. Because wood and metal tend not to get stuck on each other, the connection can be tight and flexible as needed. The use of “T” extrusions at the center of many of our dining table designs is a favorite example of this technique. It also is the most common way we build all solid-wood cabinet doors and panels. We even have used them as integral structural components in cabinet carcasses.