Artisan Turns Wood Flaw Into Stunning Furniture Design Feature

Most furniture makers consider finding an old bullet in their wood a flaw, but creator Peter Sandback has turned this common problem into a design concept that is yielding stunning wood furniture designs.

 Trendy skull design adorns a gorgeous bench by SandbackView in gallery
Trendy skull design adorns a gorgeous bench by Sandback
Square coffee table with bullet casing edge design.View in gallery
Square coffee table with bullet casing edge design.

We happened upon his unusual and eye-catching pieces at ICFF 2016, where we were immediately drawn in to the booth for a closer look at his intricate designs fashioned using bullet casings and nail heads. From large floral motifs to more abstract sprays of metal, Sandback’s finely crafted wood furnishings feature a variety of designs.

A closer look at the bullet casing detail.View in gallery
A closer look at the bullet casing detail.

From his studio in Harrisville, New Hampshire, Sandback — who as a background in industrial design and sculpture — answered some questions for us about his work.

Sandback AtelierView in gallery

Homedit: You said you were inspired to create designs with bullet casings because of the bullets found in trees by woodworkers…can you expand on it just a bit?

Sandback: Every woodworker that I know who has been at it for 20 years has cut in to a bullet. People have been hunting in the woods for more than 250 years. Countless shots that missed the mark were lodged in the surrounding trees. The tree grows around the invading bit of metal until the day that the tree is harvested and processed. I cut into a brass jacketed lead slug in a piece of Pennsylvania walnut about a year ago. The resulting lead dot surrounded by a brass circle perfectly inlaid in the dark walnut was a happy surprise.

A bullet casing in wood.View in gallery
A bullet casing in wood.

Homedit: How did the bullet casings idea evolve into the nailhead designs?

Sandback: The nail inlay tables came first – I have been making those for about 7 years.

A design made of nails before they are cut flush with the table.View in gallery
A design made of nails before they are cut flush with the table.
A close-up of the nail design before cutting.View in gallery
A close-up of the nail design before cutting.
CredenzaView in gallery
Credenza
Coffee table made of bleached walnut with aluminum nail inlay and a bleached ash base.View in gallery
Coffee table made of bleached walnut with aluminum nail inlay and a bleached ash base.
A good look at the circular design.View in gallery
A good look at the circular design.
A sunburst nailhead pattern.View in gallery
A sunburst nailhead pattern.

Homedit: Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?

Sandback: Most of the pattern designs are from old japanese fabric stencils called katagami. Many are from old bits of fabric that I have collected over the years.

 

Round table with chrysanthemum floral design.View in gallery
Round table with chrysanthemum floral design.

 

Intricate floral motif made with many sizes of nailheads.View in gallery
Intricate floral motif made with many sizes of nailheads.
Detail of a floral motif on dark wedge wood.View in gallery
Detail of a floral motif on dark wedge wood.

Homedit: About how long does it take you to produce an average-sized table?

Sandback: About 3 weeks

Sandback trimming nail heads from a piece in progress.View in gallery
Sandback trimming nail heads from a piece in progress.

 

Sandback working on a tableView in gallery

Homedit: How did you get into woodworking from your education in industrial design and sculpture?

Sandback: In graduate school I somehow got a job in the wood shop teaching other students how to use the tools. I didn’t know what I was doing so I learned fast and grew to love it. After graduation I discovered that making a living as a woodworker was easier than making a living as a sculptor. I made canvas stretchers for painters for a few years. I started making furniture when my wife got a job at a furniture store and encouraged me to build something for her to sell there.

Bullet spray design on a table at ICFF 2016.View in gallery
Bullet spray design on a table at ICFF 2016.

 

A close-up of the bullet spray design.View in gallery
A close-up of the bullet spray design.

Homedit: Where/how do you source your woods?

Sandback: Most is from here in New England. Some of the walnut is from a little further south. I use one exotic species called wenge which is from Africa.

 

Two different designs on various woods.View in gallery
Two different designs on various woods.

Homedit: Do you work solo?

Sandback: I do and have enjoyed it that way for about 25 years.

Sandback Silver nailsView in gallery