Console Table: It's Auction Time

After many hours of beavering away I am so proud to offer the first piece from Petrel Furniture up for auction.

This is your chance to own a fine, handcrafted table, please place your bids in the comment section at the bottom of the post. 

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Up for grabs is a stunning English oak console table that would be perfectly at home in the hall or as a lamp table by the side of the sofa. It is influenced by the Biedermeier period (1815 - 1848) which was an influential period of design that promoted simplicity and clean lines.

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The auction format couldn't be easier:

What are you bidding on? A solid English Oak console table with a drawer, elegant curved top and beautiful tapered legs. The top is inlayed with a fine line of American Black Walnut which is complemented with a matching hand-turned drawer pull.

The drawer has hand cut dovetails and is lined with Cedar of Lebanon which gives the most beautiful aroma. Oak ages most gracefully, the table will get richer and deeper in colour with age. 

How to Bid: If you are interested in having this fine table for your very own simply post your bid in the comment section below. I am offering this at a reserve price of £250 which is basically cost, please bid with minimum increments of £5. A table of this quality would normally have a price tag of at least £800. 

When you bid you will be asked to enter your email address and name this information will not be shared with any third party. 

Auction Deadline: The auction will run for one week ending at 7pm on Tuesday 11th March, the highest last posted bid at that point will win the table. 

How big is it? H 77cm, W 60cm, D 35cm. The drawer is large enough to hold A4 paper/mail/envelopes

Shipping costs: Are included in the reserve price for UK delivery, I will deliver direct to a greater London address in exchange for a cup of tea and a biscuit.

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This is a great opportunity not only to bid on a wonderful piece of furniture that has been lovingly handmade but also support a young fledgling business. Petrel Furniture is dedicated to producing fine handmade furniture combining traditional skills and sensitive design. 

Thank you for your generous support and happy bidding. 

 

Console Table: Next stop the auction

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Well a week of terrific progress means the first piece of Petrel Furniture is nearly ready to be auctioned off. 

Those who read the recent technique post on the Scratch Stock will know that I am planning to replace the line in-lay on the top of the table - notice in the image below how the line fades. 

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All that is left to finish off is a the new in-lay, a final few rubs of wax and fitting the turned drawer pull. 

I will send auction details next week, keep an eye out and you could be the proud winner of this lovely table, for those poised to bid the dimensions are H77, W 60, D35 (cm) It will look perfectly at home in the hall or as a lamp table. 

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Workshop Techniques: The Scratch Stock

As promised here's a technical view of a curious tool called a scratch stock, this tool has been around for centuries and is used to in-lay thin strips of contrasting wood or carve into surfaces. The tool is often used as a finishing touch to work, this is terrifying as after having spent weeks crafting a piece you then attack it with a homemade tool which is essentially a piece of carved wood with a razor sharp blade wedged into the middle.

So as a finishing touch to the console table I thought a fine line inserted into the top would highlight the curved form of the top and give some interest to the eye. 

The first step is to sharpen the cutter which is a ground jigsaw blade that has been filed to a fine 1mm edge and sharpened on water stones to a fine mirror finish - the key to success is the get this little cutter as sharp as possible. Notice the shape of the scratch stock, the curved surface allows you to 'rock' the cuter gently as you push the cutter along. The little metal point protruding the wooden stock is the knife edge used for scratching into the wood, I know, tiny but able to cause havoc. 

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Next you need to mark out the cut surface and make sure the blade is lined up accurately to the pencil line, this little tool is a modified making gauge, a knife at one end and a pencil at the other. Notice the line drawn around the table top, the curve mirrors table edge. 

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Now for the the scary bit, time to run the scratch stock over the line, gently starting to get a fine cut line and going deeper as the cut is establishing and confidence has improved. The joined points are finished off with a scalpel creating a crisp join line. 

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Once the heart in mouth work is complete its time to insert a thin line of wood, I chose to use box wood as I wanted provide a subtle contrast to the English Oak. Notice the mitred corner, this gives a really elegant fine finish. 

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So here we are, after a finishing process of cabinet scraping and a light sand we have the finished look. 

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Although I was super careful with the cutting and in-lay giving a lovely finish I am not convinced that box wood was the right choice. It is perhaps a little too understated causing the line to disappear at certain parts of the table top, I am faced with the difficult task of re-scratching this out on Monday and inserting something with a little more contrast, perhaps some walnut or elm would work better.

After spending weeks making the best table these hands are (currently) able to make the correct finishing touches are important. 

A career in the making...

Hello strangers, its great to be back in front of the screen writing again and I have some exciting news to share with you.

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Since my last post I have said farewell to gainful employment and started a full time furniture making course with the exceptionally talented John Lloyd in East Sussex. Eight weeks in and going strong, I have swapped my city desk for vice and bench - ahh the title of this blog kind of makes sense now. I now spend the majority of my days on my feet, using my hands and learning to be precise and aware, it's a stark departure from the days of meetings, spreadsheets and early flights. I expect to be working on my first commissions in spring next year and have started to put ideas on paper, I will share the process of design and the making with you over the coming months. 

I started off planning to become a craftsman several years ago, dreams and plans have now become reality, it is fantastic to have left the rat race and start down the path of a new career. The creation of Petrel Furniture Ltd. is a major milestone in this journey, Petrel will be a business dedicated to the craftsman maker, it will herald design and traditional craft skills, initially we will focus on furniture and expand to cover other craft disciplines as the business grows. 

Over the coming posts I will share the process of learning focusing on design decisions, hand skills and techniques. I will also continue to seek out influential makers both past and present and give my views on material use, environment and design. I hope you enjoy seeing the business take shape. 

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The new seat of learning, a barn in beautiful East Sussex.

 

Welcome aboard it's going to be a great trip. 

Peder Moos

Today I have been looking at the work of Danish Master Cabinetmaker Peder Moos (1906 – 1991), a truly inspirational character with some stunning work. Peder was perhaps not the most well know of the Danish furniture makers of the functionalist movement but in my view he was certainly one of the best. Working mostly to commission he is thought to have only made between 30-40 pieces, his work is incredibly rare and hard to come by, his furniture is held by a number of museum collections and commands significant price tags at auction. I first came across his work through reading James Krenov’s outstanding book ‘A Cabinetmakers Notebook’ (ISBN 0941936597) where James recalls a wonderfull anecdote:

"A story that has stuck in my mind and affected me is one of the innumerable anecdotes about a legendary cabinetmaker in Denmark called Peder Moos. He is gone now but this story has helped me and it just might help someone else. It's about a woman in Stockholm who, at the time that Peder Moos was fairly well know, wrote him a letter and asked him whether he would make her a cabinet. Several months went by and she did not get a reply, so finally she called him on the telephone and repeated her request. He muttered something about well, yes, he would do that, or at least he would think about it. Several months went by and still no answer so the lady wrote him a card reminding him of her request, and again she did not get a reply.

Then one day, the story has it about a year and a half after she had originally contacted he, there came a postcard from Peder Moos, "I have made a piece for you." The lady, of course was tremendously excited; she took the first possible train down to Copenhagen and then to the smallish town where Peer Moos lived and worked. She went to his shop, met him - and there was a chair. The lady looked at the chair, and took it and paid for it, and went home very, very happy"

James goes on to comment that this story encouraged him to have freedom in his interpretation and the importance of being left alone with the brief. For me the exciting thing here is that a craftsperson of such high regard and respect can direct output and in this case produce something so far from the brief and still delight the customer. Peder answered to the craft, the materials available and the accurate transformation of the material into form, it was his interpretation. Here's an image of one of a table from Peder Moos, this was taken from an auction catalog last year. I long to see his work up close in real-life.

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Notice the use of the wooden pins, Peder was known for shunning screws nails and screws and relied on wooden pins and wedges, wood on wood. I also adore the carving of the draws it gives the piece great confidence, you just want to touch and interact with the piece.

Decopedia has a nice little section showing some more images of Peder Moos work.

I will focus more on the great James Krenov in later posts.

So here we go....toe poised for dipping

ImageCome on in the waters great....Greetings and welcome to Workingbench a blog for all things handcrafted. This site will focus on the fine furniture and homewares from studios and workshops throughout these fair British Isles. It will bring you inspiration, maker interviews, news and comment on the main issues impacting the arts and craft industry today. Most of all this site will be a celebration of great British design heralding the people and precious skills needed to produce something handmade and truly exceptional. Please join me on this exciting journey