It's nearly a year since I left a city career and embarked on my training as a furniture maker, its amazing how quickly time has flown by, it seems like only yesterday that I was unpacking a series of strange looking tools and shiny things on day one of the course.
A year down and the start of the first major project as a professional cabinet maker is underway, the general feeling is one of confidence and excitement, of course this is mixed with a healthy sprinkling of 'oh crumbs'.
Over the course of this project I will be sharing with you the journey from raw material to finished cabinet, along the way we will be stopping off to focus on techniques and some of the challenges faced in making a substantial piece of furniture. I will be sharing the fascinating process from translating a design on paper to the real thing.
Several weeks ago I sent a pack of wood samples for consideration, the idea was to have a single wood for the main construction and provide definition and detail with a contrasting wood, this would carry on inside with the interior to the cabinet and draw sides to be made in the contrasting material.
Sycamore, Walnut and cherry were packed and sent to the client for consideration with Walnut and Sycamore making the grade, it is going to be terrific to use this fine wood once again.
Now came the tricky part, finding some fine timber.
The school has contact with a number of specialist timber yards and as makers we are encouraged to keep our eye out for high quality and interesting timbers. In fine furniture the quality of the wood is paramount, I have not yet brought timber without seeing it in person first, and I don't expect this will change.
Thankfully the smaller specialist firms allow us to rifle through huge stacks of boards to find just the right selection of figure, colour and size. One such firm is a cracking outfit based in West Sussex called English Woodlands Timber, Peter the stock manager is not only super helpful but will cheer you up with a seemingly exhaustible collection of Hawaiian shirts.
- You can just make out that shirt! -
Walnut typically comes in what they call waney edge - this means that it hasn't been cut square and often has the bark still attached, this is typical for woods that are quite curved and misshaped, you generally have to double the amount you need to factor in the curved boards and waste from the edges.
After a week of searching high and low for some fine walnut, our friends at English Woodlands came up trumps with a fine selection of French Walnut, I was lucky enough to be the first to see the boards and and got first pick. This meant I was able to match the grain and colour by picking from the same tree, several hours later I had selected 11 boards of the finest walnut I had seen in a while.
OK, it doesn't look much now but just wait until I start to prepare the timber, the colour is a subtle pink deep brown.
Here we have some sycamore for the drawer linings, as always its the last board that takes your fancy!
Tune in next time for the timber prep and matching the pretty grain and figure the design.