This is simply an opportunity to show you some shots of the recently completed Ozone desk. The desk was part of an office suite designed and made for a local client of ours. The results were stunning and totally bespoke. Every detail of functionality and aesthetic were discussed in detail with our client. In many ways this is why our clients come to us. They want something visually unique and practically tailored. They also want furniture made by master craftsman that is set apart from large scale manufacture by the quality of the materials, the manufacture and the finish. I am sure we achieved this and expect our client to gain great pleasure from this furniture for many, many years to come.
So what’s been happening in the workshop this week. Well Keira and Chris are both getting to the end of the wall hanging cabinet project. They have both done an amazing job. Crisp jointing. Perfectly fitted doors and a fast developing beautiful oiled finish. I’ll be honest and say that I was expecting this level of progress from Chris as he has had plenty of experience in making things from wood before he started the course. Keira on the other hand has surpassed our expectations. She came with no woodworking experience and is already producing this exceptionally high level of work. This is testament to the way the course is set up and the dedication of Graham Loveridge our head tutor, but the main ingredient is Keira. She has had to save hard to fulfil her ambition of becoming a cabinet maker. She isn’t going to let this opportunity pass her by and this shows in her attitude to learning. She is hungry for knowledge and she backs this up by working every available hour in the workshop. Keep it going Keira!
Grahams masterclasses are gathering momentum. Last week he ran a series on inlay. His skills were tested as he demonstrated cutting in string lines both by hand or with the router. For those of us who have worked closely with Graham we knew that both would be perfect. They were. This week the masterclasses move down into the machine room as he demonstrates the use of the spindle moulder when shaping components. Take a look at the Waters and Acland Instagram feed for daily updates.
Our head maker Tim Smith held a Q and A session looking at the making challenges of his current project. These sessions are a great opportunity for our students to quiz a real master of his craft.
We went on a couple of visits to timber merchants this week. Chris and Keira were on the look out for native ash and cherry whilst I had my eye on some beautifully clean Oak for the pro workshop. Finding timber befitting of the quality of work we do is never easy, but happily we came up trumps this week. Lets follow the progress of this new timber over the coming weeks. Tim and Angus will certainly set the standards in the pro bench room and I’m convinced that Chris and Keira in the student bench room will also do the timber justice as they both embark on their first self designed projects.
As well as the beautiful sideboard a set of six chairs are coming together in the pro bench room. Our Morgan chairs are always admired in our showroom and it’s great to see another set nearing completion. The next task is for Jimmy Todd a third generation saddler to clad the seats in bridle leather. The leather is gorgeous. The stitching excellent and the end result is a seat that will last for hundreds of years.
Kyle is so close to completing his collectors cabinet. Just the handles and the oil finish to go. Come on Kyle, we can’t wait to see the final results. It’s going to be special. Award winning?
An important element of what we do in the furniture school is preparing our students for future employment. Not all our students are here to begin a career or start a new one as a cabinet maker, but if they are we will help them on that journey as best we can. Other workshops know the quality of work that we produce and they understand that anyone who has attended one of our courses will be well trained and at the very least be highly skilled with hand tools. As I always say, the hand skills are the key to quality work. Master the hand tools and the rest won’t hold any fear. Anyway, back to the point I am trying to make. We get enquiries from workshops looking for apprentices or improvers and if possible we try and match one of our students with these prospective employers. This week Kyle spent a day in a workshop that specialises in subcontracted fine furniture making at the highest level, with an eye to landing some work experience or even better a position as an apprentice when his course is completed early next year. Good luck Kyle. This is a fantastic opportunity to further your skills.
Graham our head tutor hear at the furniture school is now posting regular pictures on Instagram. His pictography of life in the furniture school is gathering real momentum with over 200 followers within the first 2 weeks. He packs his posts full of tips and techniques as well as great archive shots of Waters and Acland pieces like the Cream chest featured above. Take a look at http://instagram.com/watersandacland
Keira is our first female student. She is a talented speech pathologist from Australia who is spending 6 months within the furniture school. For a long time she has wanted to make things from wood and so far she is doing amazingly well. The image above shows the crisp joints and accuracy that Keira is producing after only 9 weeks in the workshop. She had no woodworking experience prior to attending the school and we are extremely pleased and proud of her achievements so far. Keep up the great work Keira.
We recently installed our latest creation the Ozone office suite. The suite consists of a sideboard, desk and shelving unit. All designed to fit our clients exacting requirements whilst maintaining a light aesthetic.
Will Acland who is responsible for all design within the workshop drew inspiration from a detailed study of surface tension and continued the organic theme developed recently with the Matson dining table. Tim Smith executed the making with his usual eye for perfection. The detail and finish are exceptional.
Pictures of the desk will follow shortly…
As the date for the 2014 Worldskills UK event gets closer Angus is having to step up his preparation. The cabinet making competition is going to be tough. The competitors get 19 hours spread over three days to make a piece of fine furniture. The piece is often complex and will certainly include either a door or a drawer. The winning competitor will have to demonstrate great skill with both hand and power tools. He or she will have to be prepared. We know this because a good friend of the workshop is a former winner of the world event. Gary Tuddenham won the world event in 2007 so he is pretty well placed to give Angus sound advice. According to Gary organisation is key. You need to know where all your tools are and leave all the available time for making. Great advice and advice that I know Angus is appreciative of and taking fully on board. He is busy getting all his kit in order. Hand tools, power tools, router table, marking and measuring equipment. He is also running through practise projects in the evenings and at weekends. Go for it Angus. Not long to go now so just keep practising.
Furniture and Cabinetmaking
Jim Cooper was one of our first students within the furniture school. He is a keen amateur woodworker who wanted to spend time with us in order to really up the quality of his cabinet making skills. Over the past couple of years he has spent two lots of three months within the school. During this time Jim made the most excellent notes detailing everything that he has learnt. It’s a no brainer. If you spend every day with master craftsman it makes sense to listen and learn as much as you can. It’s even better if you document all the gems of information in a way that can be clearly understood later. Jim did such a good job of note taking that I approached Furniture and Cabinetmaking magazine with a view to publishing them. Through discussions with Derek who edits the magazine we thought the best approach was to break the notes down into small chunks. Each chunk getting across both a technique and the theory behind why we teach the technique within the furniture school.
The results will be available throughout 2015 as Jim and I have committed to producing an article a month throughout the year. I’m really looking forward to the challenge and to working with my good mate Jim. Now go and subscribe!!!
Click here to see previous Waters and Acland articles in Furniture and Cabinetmaking.
When everyone has left the workshop I love to take a close look at the work going on in the student workshop. It’s amazing how our students are able to produce such crisp joints within such a short space of time. Testament to the dedication of the students combined with the project driven structure of the early part of all our courses. Each project introduces new skills whilst reaffirming the hand skills learnt in the previous project. By the time our students are designing and making their own pieces they should feel confident that they can aim for really high quality work. Tight, crisp joints. A sign of craftsmanship. We love it.
Our new space
Some more shots of our new space. Design studio, showroom, pro bench room and student bench rooms.
I just thought I would share this great picture taken by Graham Loveridge our head tutor in the furniture school. It demonstrates clearly the results of super sharp tools combined with practised hand skills. On all our courses we do put a lot of emphasis on teaching our students to cut crisp dovetail joints. The joint is a real test of the core skills of cabinet making. Accurate marking and using perfectly set up tools to hit those lines. It’s also good fun!