Peter's Koa Tree
Materials & Methods
Peter Naramore’s mission is to create handcrafted furniture of exceptional quality and lasting beauty, using hand-selected hardwoods, time-honored joinery and hand-rubbed finishes. Naramore goes beyond confines of the traditional work and materials. It is his belief that, each project offers me the opportunity to grow exponentially, to continue learning from everything that came before me, and all that surrounds me. His portfolio contains many pieces of his own design that are built with maple or walnut as well as handpicked Hawaiian koa. From his spacious, well equipped shop he offers a wide variety of woodworking services to both commercial and residential customers.
Peter has a talent for visualizing the desires and needs of his clients. Clients can get an idea of the type of work and range of styles Peter has worked in from his extensive portfolio. He favors contemporary interpretations of classic styles with simple and timeless lines. His designs are drawn from design traditions ranging from Chippendale to Shaker and Arts & Crafts to Art Deco. His designs are informed but not bound by tradition. He enjoys taking traditional forms and adapting the shape to express a client’s taste and environment. He has an open mind that welcomes opportunities to explore new design ideas.
Most of Peter’s work is done as commissions from word of mouth or from clients who collect his work. Commissioning an original work can be a rewarding experience with client and craftsman coming together to create a new and distinctive piece. Peter encourages clients to become involved in the design process.
Working in a variety of styles adapted to meet the needs of 21st century living, he collaborates with his clients to reflect their unique needs and taste. He works toward a design that can complement and coexist peacefully with other furnishings in client’s homes. His designs begin with the practical considerations of where and how the piece will be used. Each piece of custom handcrafted furniture fits into your life as a solution to concerns about where to sit, to eat, to work, to relax, to sleep and to store.
Design and craftsmanship work together to make Naramore furniture pleasing to the eye, comfortable and durable. His designs emphasize the nature of the wood and utilize joinery, construction details and finish to produce furniture with integrity. The result is a fine piece tuned to the personality of each client; furniture his clients come to treasure.
Hawaii’s preference in furniture is for the native koa wood. Indigenous wood reflects the life of the area it comes from, adding integrity and commitment to the piece and its owner. Peter works extensively in handpicked koa as well as maple, cherry, walnut and other Hawaiian hardwoods.
Koa (Acacia koa) grows only in the Hawaiian islands in all areas from 1,500-7,000 feet elevation. Mature koa trees can reach 120 feet in height and have 8’ diameter trunks. In dense forest, the tree trunks can grow for 80 feet, free of branches. Koa weighs about 50 pounds per cubic foot, air-dry. The wood has high crush resistance and shock absorbency. Koa has a thin, light-colored sapwood. The heartwood has been described as lustrous, swirled marble. It is a reddish brown to dark brown wood, occasionally showing tones of gold, black, and deep purple.
Koa’s interlocking grain provides a greater strength and stiffness than walnut. In experienced hands, koa works with both hand and power tools and can be sanded to a silky finish. Resins make koa wood somewhat resistant to insects and fungus. Koa ranks as a world class cabinet wood of exceptional beauty and quality. It can be worked into fine furniture, sculpture, turnings, and musical instruments. Most koa has a three-dimensional quality which makes its surface seem transparent. Swirls and waves in choice pieces of the wood are spectacular. The four samples on the left are just a few of the vast range of possibilities. The curly wood is carefully worked by fine craftsmen to create jewel-like furniture to be treasured for generations.
Small mills in the islands now process the wood, only at a premium price. The dearness of koa ensures that furniture made of it will hold a high value well into the future. Peter Naramore has been sawing, drying and storing koa wood for over 20 years. His substantial stock of high quality koa allows him to select only the finest for his client’s furniture projects.
Peter prefers the time-honored techniques of traditional joinery to construct heirloom quality furniture. Mortise and tenon, hand cut dovetails and spline joinery are all employed, as necessary, to ensure and maintain the integrity of the joint. Marquetry and hand-carved details add personality. He uses the tooling, glues, and finishes that are both modern and time-tested as best for traditional furniture making.
Final surfaces are created using scrapers and sandpaper. Finishes are carefully selected to bring out the depth and beauty of the wood, to preserve its integrity. A finish is meant to draw the light and allow it to play on the wood fibers, bringing out the very richest aspects of the wood’s character. A finish also protects the wood while allowing it to age beautifully. Peter uses oil, wax, varnish and lacquer finishing processes as appropriate to each project. Hand-finishing produces a subtle overall luster that develops a rich patina over time. Clients are encouraged to learn how to maintain the finish and luster of each piece.
A chest of drawers built of solid wood has the ability to expand and contract with the wood’s natural movement due to changes in humidity. The mortise and tenon drawer frames, glued only at the front, allow for this movement without sacrificing strength. Dovetails are used where strength is most needed. Rails and stretchers are often best reinforced by a simple dovetail. Drawer bodies are always dovetailed to combat the constant pulling force required. No metal hardware is used to hang or guide drawers.
Peter recommends dusting using only a soft, dry cotton cloth. For cleaning and maintenance of the finish each piece must be treated according the instructions that come with it. Solvent-based formulas and any polishes with silicone in the formula are to be avoided. For heavy cleanup, Peter suggests mixing Murphy’s oil soap in water and lightly dampening a cloth. Prolonged exposure of furniture to direct sunlight causes the wood to dry out. To reduce this problem, apply a top quality lemon oil. Apply the oil to a dry cloth and use sparingly. Let the oil penetrate for a few minutes, then wipe dry with a clean, soft cotton cloth. A coat of wax may be applied 48 hours later, or you may use the lemon oil more frequently. Fine furniture must be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent damage from ultraviolet radiation.
Peter has the necessary skills and judgment to tackle any furniture commission. The Naramore shop can design and build custom work for home or office including furniture, library walls, built-in cabinetry and millwork. Shop skills include veneering, carving, turning, hand-cut joinery and finishing. By maintaining complete control over his operation, Peter can ensure the integrity of design and construction.
What Others Say
from "The Custom Furniture Source Book" by Kerry Pierce, Taunton Press 2001
"Many independent furniture makers handpick the material they use in their work, but not all go as deeply into that process as Peter Naramore. In addition to choosing his material, he also dries it and in some cases participates in the logging of the timber from which that material will be cut.
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