I use hand tools for the final fit and finish for a good reason.
In this case it was my trusty Clifton 410 shoulder rebate plane. It is one of the first tools I bought and, although it is not used daily, there are certain jobs it excels at. It is a simple, well made piece of kit and would I recommend it as part of every furniture maker’s tool kit.
I recently completed a suite of display furniture to complement the benches I made for Weston Park Gallery in Sheffield. Here are a couple of the pieces as part of ‘Picturing Sheffield’, the museums new permanent exhibition.
We are delighted to be involved as part of this years London Craft Week. We will be exhibiting in the CAA gallery as part of the week’s events. I will also be in town to meet and chat on the 7th May. There are more details here. The gallery address is 89 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0HX.
Our friends in York sent me this; one of my benches on the cover of the Yorkshire Post Magazine.
Last week I delivered the 11 benched I designed and made for York Art Gallery. The Gallery reopens in August after a huge 2 year redevelopment project. I have made two designs for different uses but they had to compliment each other.
The project has occupied a lot of time and space over the last few months so it is good, but also a bit strange, to no longer have them in the workshop.
Here are some images of the work over the last few months. I will post the images of the finished benches later.
A lot of 54mm and 34mm prime oak.
Several days of machining later.
Starting to rough out components
Making seat backs
Still making seat backs
Shaping seat backs.
Making seat skirts.
Lots of them
First dry fit.
I have been selected to show in the ‘Top Notch’ exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. The show runs from the 7th March – 12th April.
This week I spent a lot of time hand shaping bench backs for a large seating project. If I could find a faster, less back breaking method to complete this task I probably would. However, the feel of the hand finished piece has slight imperfections, undulations, which add to rather than detract from the overall feel.
The meat of the material was removed on the band-saw with the table set at a jaunty angle. The cut was as tight as I dared to the final thickness. This leaves me a flat, rough, angled surface, which I then have to shape into a beautiful, smooth curved surface. First of all I use the belt sander where I can, to remove material quickly down to the lines I scribed in with my custom scratch stocks.
Then the hard work really starts. The remaining wood is removed with rasps. I use a pair of really good quality, hand-stitched rasps of different coarseness. The roughing out is done with a number 3 rasp, called a hog, and then a finer number 9 is used to tidy up. This leaves me with the final shape although not the final finished surface. The next stage is smoothing everything off with a cabinet scraper and another bucket load of elbow grease.
The final step is sanding followed by a visit to the osteopath.
Sometimes the only way to carry out a process is to make your own tools. When making the hooped seat backs for the ‘Alice Chair’, I need to create a reference point within the structure so that when shaping the interior face I know when to stop. I achieve this by using a scratch stock .
A scratch stock is a very simple piece of kit used to create very fine decorative details near to or on an edge. The details are literally scratched in with a sharp, profiled bit of metal held in place a set distance from the edge in a handle. The problem I have is that the edge surface I run my scratch stock on is both curved in plan shape and profile.
Having tried and failed to use a standard scratch stock, I have now made my own custom ones to do the job. Like so many tools in cabinet making it is very simple, yet when used with skill is highly effective.
You can’t have a workshop without trestles and you never seem to have enough of them. I use them for so many things from supporting large planks (when cutting them up) to stacking components when machining and creating (with an addition of a piece of ply ) a set up table. So, the new workshop, new trestles – I have made them to the same height and design as the first ones I made, whilst training 10 years ago. I still have those original trestles and they have been in continuous use. The amount of weight they can take is incredible, I have loaded them up with piles of boards whilst sifting through to find the right piece and I haven’t heard a single creak. I reckon they should last me out, but I still need a few more.
Here is a new Isaac bench with a very fancy seat. The Leather was commissioned from Susannah Hunter by my client. The bench is used as a hall seat but is also used when they have lots of people to seat at the Tevi Table.
The fantastic ‘Made London‘ is on next week. This is the third year of this show and if you haven’t been before it is well worth a visit. The exhibition is over the four floors of the John Soane church ‘One Marylebone’. Great atmosphere, great location and of course great exhibitors. I will be exhibiting on the mezzanine.
I have a few 2 for 1 tickets left, if you would like one please drop me a line.
The last few weeks have been a bit full on moving into a new workshop. Floors have been laid, machines moved and installed and there are still many more jobs left to do. However, I am finally up and running again. First job is to get ready for Made London.
I delivered a very beautiful English cherry console last week to a client in London. Here is a quick look . I will be adding it to the portfolio soon.
I am currently in the process of making an oak and slate sofa table. Here are a couple images of work in progress.