Four planks of glowing pink-orange madrone leaned against the wall at Gilmer--perfect sandstone colors and patterns for a design that sprang from landforms of the desert southwest.
And in a back room, a billet of orange-brown Honduran Rosewood with rich black stripes shone among its more muted companions. I thought I had it made--so often finding the right wood is the biggest hurdle.
How wrong I was: the mesa shaped sides needed dovetails that curved and tapered for the full ooh-la-la, but vertical interior surfaces in which to nest the trays. Thankfully the muse smiled, and this is among my favorite pieces; intensely challenging to make but serene and touchable when complete.
Many other woods would look beautiful (though giving different personalities): bay laurel, pear, koa, euro ash, Cuban mahogany, yew, and others. Admittedly a couple of these species would be desperately difficult, showing the tiniest mistakes--but then so did the madrone!
The price looks shockingly high, but is not a misprint; in fact it seriously under-represents the time this piece took the first time around, and I can only hope to do it more efficiently if someone wants one like it some day.