Toronto’s Hover Shelf By MSK Design

My name is Mikhail SK, and besides writing for, I like to create things - and this is my latest thing. 

Based out of my workshop in Toronto, you can find me dabbling with furniture under the brand name of MSK Design. With a background in arts and woodwork, I prefer to work with natural materials like wood, especially if it’s domestic and locally sourced. The approach I take with my designs depends on the materials I’m using, in their natural aesthetic. 





In this case, the goal is not to create a work of beauty, but to change the material and bring out the beautiful character which already exists within the grain and colour. In short, I care about the story of its origin.





The Hover Shelf is made from North American Black walnut and aromatic red cedar, also known as Western red cedar.

The walnut base comes from right here in Southern Ontario, where it grows in the lowlands, and is well-accustomed to the cold Canadian winters it has to endure. To avoid our sporadic late spring frosts, the North American walnut actually delays its leafing by two weeks later than other trees. The aromatic red cedar details on the other hand, was sourced from British Columbia. Red cedar prefers moist soil, so it can be found around swampy areas and shorelines, as well as the wetter areas of the Interior, near the province’s eastern border with Alberta.

I love that both of these woods are grown and sourced right here in Canada’s backyard and every knot, burl, and cranny tells a small story of Canada's gorgeous North, which I feel blessed to be part of!





A lot of time and effort went into understanding the material before I touched it. This means that I took time to study the grain pattern to better understand its characteristics and qualities which helped me decide which direction the piece would take.

It also helps to match grain patterns to create seamless connections in the piece. Take the top face as an example, it is actually made up of two parts.

The objective is to create a wood furniture that is so well blended together that nobody can distinguish where one piece begins, and the other one ends. When done properly, this is called a hairline joint.





While the surfaces of the piece are made from walnut, red cedar is used as both an accent and as a structural support for the corners, also known as splines. Beyond the striking detail that it creates, the cedar splines actually reinforce the rectangular structure.

There's a rule of thumb about minimal design that's actually a little ironic; the more simple and minimal something looks, the more difficult and complicated the system are to create the effect of seamless structure and strength.

Just a miter connection alone would be too weak to hold itself together durably, so the splines do their job by creating more surface area for the glue to latch on to, making for a stronger joint. The edge was then routed round to be flushed with the walnut faces, and sanded for a smooth finish.





The wall attachment system is also rather unorthodox, composing itself of a solid, walnut half-sphere drilled into the wall, which holds the shelf upright with a dado joint.

The shape of the support allows it to lift not only off the floor, but off the wall too. 





Now, this is what I call a floating shelf! I hope whoever ends up owning it will get as much enjoyment out of it as I had creating it.

In this day and age, most of us city dwellers don't get to experience the great outdoors as often as we would like. So, at the very least, the Hover Shelf hangs as a testament and a reminder of the beautiful peaceful woods surrounding our noisy lifestyles.

For more work like this, visit MSK Design.

If you enjoyed this piece, you might want to check out these other articles:

Rethinking Plywood: Cheap Alternative Or Luxury Material?

Vurv Design’s Camille Floor Desk, Coquitlam, BC

Beautifully Laminated Pieces By Quebec’s Kino Guérin


Researched and Written by Mikhail SK, Undergraduate Environmental Design, OCAD University

Posted In: Ontario

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