Cumberland Journal

Western Kentucky University Chandler Chapel

Date: 2009
Client: Western Kentucky University
Location: Bowling Green, KY
Architect: Everton Oglesby Architects

The unusual aspect of this project was that the entire project was Douglas Fir. This was a new build, and you rarely see all Douglas Fir these days. Most people think of Douglas Fir as being rustic, it has a very straight grain with very few knots, and the trees grow very tall, really quickly. We had to source clear (no knots) lumber. The entire ceiling was done tongue in groove, and the whole room has a very open, blonde look. The job also called for matching timber trusses that ran the entire length of it.

An interesting and beautiful feature on this project was the doors. We did 10 substantial exterior doors, averaging 2 ½” thick and eight to nine feet tall, all with transoms.

Church of Scientology

Date: 2009
Client: Church of Scientology
Location: Nashville/ Old Fall School Building
Architect: Gensler

The Nashville Church of Scientology is in a beautifully restored former school, the Fall School, which was built in 1898. With a brick and arched window exterior, the interior boasts some interesting architectural features, such as an expansive atrium and cupola with a light well, columns and balustrades.

The story behind the work CAM did is an interesting one. We got a call at 3:30 on a Friday, right as we were getting ready to kick off the weekend. We agreed to come down and look at the building. When we got there, we were presented with a large amount of work including mahogany panels, and large operable folding doors. Then came the kicker: The needed the work done by the next Thursday.

We fully expected to say thanks but no thanks, but they convinced us it could be a great project to do in a hurry. We had many hurdles to overcome, all of which were total deal breakers. We told them we wouldn’t be able to get the materials until Monday morning at the earliest. The client said he would have the materials delivered to the shop the next (Saturday) morning. Many of the drawings were not fully detailed, so we said we needed someone there with authorization to make immediate decisions regarding changes, color selections and any other details. The client said there would be two architects there at 9:00 the next morning. fully authorized to make those decisions. Every seemingly impossible stumbling block was taken care of by the client.

We mobilized and the team showed up Saturday morning and we powered through to pull off a very large job from start to finish in just five days.


Octagonal building, center chase
Get a call at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon. Contractor is there with a millworker out of Florida. “We need this work done by Thursday.” We laughed and said no. Millwork company convinced us to hear them out. They were in a hurry because they were filming a video the next Thursday for L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday.

We look at the drawings, mahogany paneling, operable doors, folding doors, a lot of work. We mobilized to get guys in the shop the next morning in case we pulled the trigger. We had many hurdles to overcome, not the least of which was getting material before Monday. The client insisted he could get material by the morning. Many of the drawings were not fully detailed, so we said we needed someone there authorization to make immediate decisions regarding changes, color selections and any other details. The client said there would be two architects there at 9:00 the next morning. fully authorized to make those decisions. Every seemingly impossible stumbling block was taken care of by the client.

We mobilized, everybody showed up, we worked all weekend and we had it ready by Thursday.

Mahogany stile and rail paneling on huge expanses of walls with hidden doors in some of the panels. For example, some hidden doors opened to reveal a giant projector screen. Mahogany columns and beams with coffered ceilings.

Crater Hill (Private Residence)

Date: 2009
Client: Private
Location: Nashville
Architect: D|AAD
Interior Architect/Designer: McAlpine Booth & Ferrier
Contractor: Carter Group

Modern is a nice change of pace from classical architecture, mostly because it is very difficult to do. It involves long lines, straight grain, usually horizontal with a few reveals that run throughout the house. It is very sleek without much ornamentation to it, which means when someone looks at it they might think it is easy. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is significantly more difficult than classical architecture, mainly because there is no ornamentation to hide any flaws.

In classical architecture, say you have an eight-piece crown moulding with an entablature, a fascia, a scotia, mouldings, necking, crown and then bead, etc., if something is off, like a flaw or a bad joint, you can cover it or move it to be out of sight. With modern, you’ve got a reveal that might be ? or ¼ inch that runs throughout the entire house, so if it is off, even a 1/16th of an inch, anybody can spot it.

Because of this, we go in and we set the ground. We meet with the contractor and any necessary sub-contractors and we set the benchmark, or true line for every else to work off of. Say we set a line at four feet, if you’re doing floors you measure down from there and if you’re doing finished ceilings you measure up from there. We set this benchmark through the entire house, as well as outside.

In this house, everything was rift-sawn white oak paneling that was wire brushed with a V groove and everything lined up as you went through the entire house. That was only possible by benchmarking the house before work started.

The doors were really special, because they were carved. We had to make 6” wide planks that we could carve, which was going to make the doors very heavy because we were using solid lumber. We did some research and found a material called resonated boxcomb which is a honeycomb product which we used to reduce the weight of the interior portion of the door. We made the honeycomb core 1/16” bigger than what we wanted the final door to be. Then we assembled the door with the lumber and put it in a vacuum press to get it to the right size and strengthen the core by compressing it. This is an example of solving a problem that no one else, to our knowledge, had done before to make sure the architect and client get what they want. One of the doors was massive at 5’ x 8’, so even with the honeycomb core it was still quite heavy. We used a center pivot Rixson hinge to make the door easily operable.

For the carving, we decided we had to do it by hand so there wouldn’t be any kind of visible recurring pattern you might get with automation. We invented a tool, with a grinder and a plexiglass sled and block which let us control the angle and declination of the blade to make sure we had complete control of the carving process. Every door was hand scraped, and there was 72 of them.

Sarah Cannon Medical Center

Date: 2009
Client: Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Location: Nashville

We do a lot of medical work, primarily plastic laminate casework. IT seems that more and more, medical centers are renovation their hospitals to make them much nicer to be in, instead of just having stark, functional spaces like government buildings.

As you walk in, there is a striking feature wall made with 3form, which is a poured epoxy resin that comes in different colors and inlays. We made this 3form wall and then cut it similar to puzzle pieces that interlock, and we backlit the whole thing to feature the Sarah Cannon logo on the front.

It’s always fun to work with different materials. We did a wood back wall, but that was just the palette, it’s the 3form wall that really pops.

Bass Berry & Sims Corporate Office

Date: 2008
Client: Bass Berry & Sims
Location: Nashville (Pinnacle Building)
Architect: ASD | SKY

The big law firms have traditionally had old-school classic offices with dark wood, walls lined with bookcases full of law books, kind of a clubby, expensive look. (finish this)

The main material used throughout the office is high figured eucalyptus, which is a beautiful wood. This job required eucalyptus veneer in the boardroom, the corridors, on the ceiling, and we needed to match the grain as much as possible throughout. A job this large can’t be sourced from a single tree, so there were several trips up to Hi Tech Veneer just north of Louisville to find veneers from different trees with similar, pleasing grain matches.

The entrance features a large desk with a radiused front with slats. The challenge with that design was that the slats were ¾” by 1’ that followed the radius and wood doesn’t bend like that. In the waiting room there is furniture with a polyester finish which is very difficult to work with, but, when done properly, creates a beautiful finish.

In the boardroom, the desk is quite large, seating 40 and it features eucalyptus slats, stainless steel, stone inlays, integrated microphones. The room also features eucalyptus slats in the ceiling that allow for a drop-down projector. There are two tables made of ebony that were book matched, creating a fiddle that gives them a symmetrical look.


The architect was ASD | SKY out of Atlanta. Boult Cummings Connor and Berry (now Bradley) got the ball rolling on modern offices for law firms. Cam has done offices for most if not all of the big law firms in Nashville, and for the most part they’ve all been old-school classic law firm architecture and design with dark wood, lots of bookcases full of law books on the wall, like an expensive steak house feel. Then Boult Cummings Connor and Berry moved into the new Roundabout building and they went totally modern with sleek lines, lots of metal trim, and modern lighting. We did that office, and later Bass Berry & Sims called us to do their new modern office.

The Bass Berry & Sims office is high figured eucalyptus, and it’s just beautiful. This job required a ton of veneer all over, including the board room, the corridors, ceilings . . . it was all over the place. We had to source the veneer from Hi Tech Veneer in Indiana, and when you get into a job that large, you often have to use wood from different trees. Each tree is different and the trick is to find different trees that have similar, pleasing grain matches.

Cam did an awesome table for the boardroom. It’s huge. It seats around 40, it’s got eucalyptus slats, stainless steel, stone inlays, integrated microphones. Eucalyptus slats on the ceiling with a drop down projector.

The reception desk is also exquisite. Giant radiused front with slats. Three quarter by inch and a half slated that bent around, which was tricky, because wood doesn’t like to bend. We also did some furniture in the waiting room. This furniture has a polyester finish, which is extremely difficult to do, and easy to do wrong. But when done right, it’s a beautiful look. Two of the tables were made of ebony, which we book matched, creating a fiddle that we offset on the tables which makes them symmetrical looking.

Nashville Airport

Date: 2007
Client: Nashville Airport Authority
Location: Nashville
Architect: Architectural Alliance/Thomas Miller
Contractor: Bell and Associates

The cool thing about this job was the veneer. We did the veneer on all the columns, on the ticket counters, the stage in the food court, the entry ways, the desks at the gates. The veneer is kewazinga, which is a rotary cut from an African bubinga tree. The regular cuts are plane sliced, quarter sawn, rift cut or a rotary cut.

We had to go up to the veneer house in Indiana and lay out the veneer because it is such an intricate grain pattern, almost like a kaleidoscope. Matching it takes a lot of work to make each panel pleasing to the eye. So for instance, if you have a 4’ x 8’ panel, there’s no way that’s going to be a single cut of veneer. You have plate widths, and we had to go up and figure out what was going to be the best width for this job. We laid the veneer out in all different kinds of combinations until each piece looked like it flowed together naturally. We did this for each type of column, for the stage, for the desks, all of it.

Private Residence

Date: 2007
Client: Private
Location: Nashville
Architect: Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee is a very famous Classical architect. You don’t see classically trained architect. There were over 57 different profile knives within the scope of work, which is a huge number. Every room had a different base profile, different chair rail, different crown, scocia, freeze, soffet, everything. Every single room was individually detailed and individually done which resulted in a mass amount of drawing and engineering work going into it. The finishes were puzzling at first, real head-scratchers when you look at the samples. But when it all goes in, it’s like a dull, white-washed paint, like washed out light pastel blues, the finish shop loved doing it. It was a different type of finish.

The kitchen had a particular bar top they wanted. They had been out west and saw mesquite bushes, the same mesquite they use in Texas to make BBQ. A mesquite tree is really a bush. They only grow 4 or 5 feet tall, a real mature one will be 8 feet. We had to source that into a bar top. We got the widest lengths we could find because the bar top was 7’ x 30”. Each individual plank was 5” to 6”, and we got seven to net six. We glued it up and had to fill in some of the checkmarks with black epoxy because it is a gnarly tree that just grows all over the place. It’s a really cool looking wood. The natural is an amber-red.

Several doors were two faced. For instance, in the dining room, the face of the door was paneled, but on the library side, it was mirrored with an antique mirror panels and totally different trim. The faces of the same door were completely different. Which leads to manufacturing creativity, because you need the door to be in balance. You have to make sure it won’t bow, won’t warp. You can’t just slap two faces on either side of a door core. Plus you have to factor in hardware. How do you deal with hardware on a door that is 5 ½” on one side and 4” on the other? It might be centered on one side and offset on the other. A lot of design tweaks go into that kind of thing.

The gates: We made two gate openings, four individual leaves. 3 ½” solid mahogany. Big, beefy, slats in the center of the field, a radiused window. Herndon & Merry did the hardware.

The original job was being done by another company and they couldn’t handle it, so we came in and pulled it off. We do that a lot.

Around 9:00 is the whole conversation about classical architecture. (Daniel Lee, Gil Shaffer, Ken Tate. Intricate details within the moldings and doors, all different.)
Daniel Lee:
Herndon & Merry:

Private Residence

Date: 2007
Client: Private Residence
Location: Nashville (Belle Meade)
Architect: G.P. Schafer Architect, PLLC

This is an old, Georgian style home, the architect was Gil Schafer, one of the premiere classical architects in the world. He was president of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, and is now a Fellows Emeriti. Martin Roberts, Cumberland Architectural Millwork’s president, is a member of the Tennessee Chapter of the ICAA.

CAM came in to save the day when another company couldn’t handle the details of the job. As is typical of a classical architecture job, there were over 80 different new knife profiles we had to create and grind for this home. The details in this home are extraordinary. For instance, in the kitchen, the cabinetry ties in with the chair rail and the molding and all of that is custom built.

Schermerhorn Symphony Hall Fix

Date: 2007
Client: Nashville Symphony
Location: Nashville

There is retractable seating floor that pulls back or forward, which when not in use goes down an elevator and becomes a ballroom*. They were working on some seating and had turned off the limit switches of the elevators. Someone on the custodial staff started the elevator and kept it going and ripped out a huge chunk of the founders boxes. We get a call on Thursday at 3:00 PM. We went to look at it. The damage was about twenty feet on each side of the hall, it had all been completely ripped off. Carved harps and paneling, a cap and hand rail, the whole underside of the boxes. There was a wedding scheduled on that Saturday. We took pictures of it all, and the next day we took two benchmen out to look at it. We worked some long hours that Friday and Saturday. We installed it Saturday morning, and it was being painted by noon, and was ready for the 5:00 PM wedding. Our patch is still there to this day, and you can’t even tell.

Covenant Presbyterian Church

Client: Covenant Presbyterian Church
Location: Nashville
Architect: Bullock Smith and Partners
Contractor: Solomon Builders
Year: 2007

This was a new build of a gothic revival church in the Burton Hills area of Nashville. The main work done by CAM was up in the altar area through to the back wall. The walls, which we paneled in (WHAT) went all the way back to the organ. There is a theme of triglyphs, which look somewhat like three-leaf clovers, carved in the balcony, the furniture, the paneling and throughout the building.

The special challenge on this job involved the organ. CAM had make the wood stain samples for the wood on the custom built organ, which would be installed later, would match. Then there was concern with unwanted reverberation from the paneling around the organ. By working with Bullock Smith’s acoustical we decided the best course of action was to incorporate an acoustic retarding glue on the back of the panels, as opposed to the normal installation of hanging the panels on a cleat.

The entry doors are very large with a peak at about 10 feet high. We hand carved scripture which was gilded with gold, a very difficult process.
This was a new build. Gothic. Maybe Gothic Renaissance. The inside is very gothic, all done out of red oak. The main CAM portion was at the altar. There were walls that went all the way back to the organ. There were triglyphs carved in. The triglyph, which looks like a three leaf clover, is the recurring theme that goes throughout the building. It goes through the balcony, in the furniture, in the paneling, all over the place.

These panels are where the choir is, and there is a huge custom organ. We had to make the stain samples for the wood on the organ so that everything matched, since we would have our installation in long before they came in. The organ people were concerned with reverberation and noise from our paneling, so we worked with Bullock Smith’s acoustical engineer, to incorporate an acoustic retarding glue on the back of the panels. Normally you hang panels on a cleat, which leave space behind the panels which can vibrate. So we glued them on with this special adhesive, we actually doubled it by putting a substrate on the wall.

The entry doors are huge double doors that are radiused at the top. The peak is around 10 feet high. On the face of the door is a scripture which is hand carved and gold gilded, which is very difficult and very rare. That is outside and so far it has held up great.