Canadian Woodworking

My favourite piece of Canadian-made furniture

Author: Rob Brown
Tank Table

Beauty is subjective. Every one of us has a different opinion of what looks good and what doesn’t. I’ve seen many beautiful pieces of furniture, many of which are Canadian-made, but there’s one piece that stands out from all the rest.

Meredith Nicole is a former woodworker and writer, living on Canada’s west coast. She’s also an entrepreneur, and no longer building, as she has recently opened a new business.

About 10 years ago she made “Tank Table.” It’s not littered with wild and crazy woodworking techniques, busy grain or loads of exposed joinery. It has a very subtle beauty about it. The overall form is pared down, with a top, two panels for legs, and a few stretchers and runners that support a simple drawer. Overall, the form of the piece is pleasing, at least to my eye.

The magic happens when you take a closer look and notice the inlay in the top and one of the legs; it’s comprised of a tank inlaid into the leg that’s shooting bullets, yet once the bullets hit the top they transform into poppies. And the inlay is solid silver, which contrasts beautifully with the rich wood it’s set into.

The tank and poppy motifs are a reference to WWI, and all the atrocities that happened in northern Europe. I enjoy a well-designed piece of furniture, but I really love the fact that this piece tells a story and pays homage to our history. Adding a story to a piece of furniture takes it from a functional (and, hopefully, beautiful) item to something that is truly a fascinating work of art.

Check out our Dec/Jan 2012 issue to read about how Meredith inlaid the silver into the top and leg of her table.

Other motifs

While searching my old laptop for images of Meredith’s table, I came across some shots of a sushi bar I made many years ago. Though it doesn’t have a motif with the same impact as a tank and poppies, it does have a strong bamboo visual incorporated into it. Once the black walnut bar was completed, I cut openings in the face of the bar and inserted laser-cut stainless-steel panels with handmade Japanese paper applied to their backs. Once the lighting is turned on, the shapes, textures and colours come alive.

The overall design of the bar is quite simple, but like the table, smaller focal points were added to bring more life to the project. This is the sort of thing that can really make a piece of furniture come alive with interest. Whether it’s flowers, bamboo or a completely different motif, you could consider adding something simple to your next project, or possibly even designing your project around a certain motif. If done tastefully, it can set your design apart from the rest of the field.

What’s the best piece of Canadian-made furniture you’ve ever seen? Share your thoughts below or send me an email, as I’d love to hear about it.

“Tank Table”
Meredith Nicole’s “Tank Table” is a great example of simple yet beautiful design. Curved leg panels bring some shape to the piece.

Tank Table

War and Peace
A tank and poppy inlay pays tribute to the atrocities of WWI.

war and peace

Silver Lining
Meredith inlaid silver into her table, and she did a great job with it. Check out our Dec/Jan 2012 issue to read how she did it.

inlaid silver

A Big Bamboo Bar
Though it’s made of black walnut, this bar has a strong bamboo motif on it. Stainless steel panels were laser-cut and added to the rear face of the bar.

bamboo bar

A Splash of Colour
Green hand-made Japanese paper applied to one side of the laser-cut bamboo panels adds some colour to the bar. A piece of glass protects the paper and bamboo motif.

bar cabinet detail


Published:
Last modified: May 15, 2022

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

4 Comments

  1. Really liked the simplicity of the design at first glance and the attention to detail in the construction. However, I think the whole “tank” thing is a bit twee and it spoils it for me.

  2. My first woodworking project in the 10th grade shop class was a bookcase made from 6 pieces of mahogany . To describe it is hard but it was in the shape of the letter “S”. All boards were cut square and wooden dowels held up the one end of the two levels. I kept and used the piece for years and it started the passion for woodworking I still have today. I only wish students were offered shop, sewing , cooking or some other practical courses because they provide knowledge you can use for the rest of your life.

  3. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your comment. I can understand your point, though to me the tank points to the harsher side of war, and makes it feel a bit more real.

    These conversations are part of the reason why I think this piece, and the story it tells, is great. To each our own!

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