A Fresh Take On Merging Wood and Metal ComponentsAt the AWFS 2011 woodworking show, Osborne Wood Products submitted an unusual materials development for consideration in the Sequoia Awards: the Fusion Leg. Osborne described its Fusion Leg as “a new design concept in which metal components are combined with turned wood legs, resulting in a leg design that has traditional references in the profile, but with a 21st century attitude provided by the metal elements.”

First released in February 2011, the legs come in two designs — the Solaris and the Electra — with five metal finishes: flat black, brushed copper, brushed aluminum, chrome and gun metal gray. Nine different species are offered: soft maple, red oak, pine, hickory, alder, cherry, mahogany, black walnut and hard maple.

Though it did not receive a Sequoia award, Toccoa, GA-based Osborne Wood Products did earn a patent at the end of September, protecting all intellectual and development rights on the product.

The three-year development process began when CEO and founder of Osborne Wood Products, Leon Osborne, visualized it on a 2008 business trip to Spain. Haden Smith, Osborne’s chief CAD designer, continued development of the project with support from patent lawyer Ron Reardon.

“Osborne sees the Fusion Leg as an opportunity to serve new customer demands,” says Leon Osborne. The patent protects the visual design and features applied to the manufactured product. A second “utility” patent is in process.

“Back in 2008 we saw more metal components integrated into cabinetry,” says Christian Smedberg, director of marketing. “Leon and I sketched out initial drawings on napkins over dinner at a KBIS show.” Seeing that designs combining materials had found a foothold in kitchen and bath design, Osborne moved ahead.

“The prototypes were difficult to create because we had never really worked with metal or metal finishing before,” says Smedberg. “We also knew that our customers don’t work with metal, so we needed to come up with a design that they would feel comfortable using and installing.”

Osborne launched the product as an “assembled” finished product. The Fusion Leg parts also can be disassembled, making it easy to finish the wood pieces separately, and not coat the metal pieces.

“When Fusion Legs were released we had immediate attention,” says Smedberg. But after detecting hesitancy among woodworkers, Osborne embarked on a series of marketing and education efforts, dedicating a section of its website to videos and training on Fusion Leg.

The site gives practical advice for handling the legs, as well as a how-to video. It explains how the Solaris and Electra legs come fully assembled leg, with wood pieces and metal connected via a shaft with a threaded metal rod held in placed with a nut and washer.

Two plastic protectors are included with the legs to cover exposed ends of the threaded rod while the leg is disassembled for finishing. Metal parts can be wrapped or the entire leg disassembled to protect the metal parts from discoloration during finishing.

“Most of the industry feels comfortable using the posts now,” says Smedberg.

Videos and tutorials on using these legs are at osbornewood.com/fusiona_legs_video.cfm

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.