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Chinese-style table Yeung Chan Millbrae, CA

Yeung Chan has come a long way since 1973, when he barely escaped a Maoisc "relocation" farm. He brought plenty of woodworking knowledge with him to America—as a child, he made his own chisels and planes—and he established a successful career as a designer, patternmaker and prototypcr in the commercial furniture industry before enrolling at the College of the Redwoods. Now, at 50, he's finally setting up his own custom furniture shop.

Chan's 18-in. by 36-in. Ming-influenced table is far more complex than it looks, with hidden mortises and tenons throughout. It's made of doussié—"very close to the Chinese wood huanghuali, a form of rosewood which we can't get anymore." The little coves and curves are another Ming device; they reflect light in a way that is pleasing to the eye.

Chan made custom scraper planes, a molding plane and a spokeshave for the detail work. "Using my own hand tools gives me great satisfaction in this plugged-in, mass-produced world."

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