A pepperwood and toothache table

Most of the pieces that our students make are constructed from the more common timber species such as oak, olive ash or sycamore.

So it’s always fascinating when a student uses an unusual species, trusting in their ability and imagination to fashion something both unique and very beautiful.

That’s what John Grillo, a former business intelligence analyst from Denver, Colorado, has done, constructing a round table from walnut and American pepperwood.

John has already proved himself to be a highly creative designer whose furniture is characterised by clean, simple lines, but also incorporating rarely-used veneers.

That was true of one of his previous pieces of furniture – a  bird’s eye maple and fumed oak console table, whose top seems to float from its legs.

John has taken his creativity one step further, using another rarely-used timber species to create a complex, organic pattern that is utterly original.

The apron of his table is made from some 40 pieces of intricately-cut walnut, with a dozen pieces of pepperwood veneer to form a simple, flowing yet geometrically-complex design.

Pepperwood, or zanthoxylum clava-herculis to give it its proper name, is sometimes known as southern prickly ash and is native to the south-eastern USA.

It’s also sometimes called the toothache tree because chewing its leaves or bark causes a tingling numbness in the mouth.  For that reason, it was used by Native Americans and early settlers to treat toothache.[

After graduation, John will be returning to Denver to set up Rocky Mountain Fine Woodworking.


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