Our Process

Butterfly Joints - a live edge design legacy

Have you ever wondered about the bowtie-shaped joints used in many of our pieces?

Butterfly joint detail on a maple coffee table

Butterfly joint detail on a maple coffee table

We tend to refer to them as butterfly joints, but you may also hear them referred to as dovetail keys, bow-ties, or Dutchman keys. Butterfly joints can be seen anciently in boats, furniture, and housing structures, but they made a design resurgence in the mid-20th century when used by George Nakashima, an esteemed furniture designer, and one of our lead inspirations.

Not only are these accents a simple design element, they’re also structurally significant for many of our live edge designs. 

Butterfly joint detail from an ebonized maple coffee table

Butterfly joint detail from an ebonized maple coffee table

The advantage of working with locally salvaged slabs is that each piece is one of a kind with unique grain patterns, cracks, splits, and beautiful disfigurements. Each slab carries the story of the tree it once belonged to. The challenge of working with such pieces, however, is that a crack, split, or knot may threaten the long life that we hope to provide each of our creations. By utilizing butterfly joints expertly, we can stabilize a crack or provide reinforcement when joining multiple slabs.

A snapshot of our design process on a live edge cherry slab

The same cherry slab as a finished coffee table

A pair of expertly-fitted butterflies as seen on a walnut bench

A vital part of creating structurally sound furniture is the drying process. After salvaging a tree and sawing it into slabs, we air dry each slab for 2-3 years and then kiln-dry it for nearly a month. This process illuminates how much cracking and splitting will occur over time in each slab, offering plenty of warning about where the most structurally vulnerable spots lie. With this information we determine where to employ a butterfly joint, and get to work. 

What our lead artist/designer Matt says about crafting these intricate details: "Adding butterfly joints is a challenging and exciting part of my process. I like that it's an age old design and the perfect example of the beauty in form meeting function. I'm especially drawn to the shape because it's so simple yet structurally sound."

A single butterfly joint: a simple design statement, and a pop of contrasting color

A single butterfly joint: a simple design statement, and a pop of contrasting color

In short, our tables don’t just wear bowties because they’re dapper, they’re carefully-considered and indispensable structural support.