I’ve been designing and making furniture for over thirty years. I trained at the London College of Furniture and later taught there deputising for a senior lecturer. Nearly all my furniture has been one-off and commissioned. Because I have only taken design briefs that interested me, I have come up with outcomes that were to my and the clients’ taste and pleasure.
Much of the wood I have used I harvested from the 1987 hurricane which brought down 16 million trees in southeast England. I bought a chainsaw mill within the first week and used it to cut fallen trees in Holland Park into 35mm and 55mm thick planks. The first 5 trees were red oak. I sliced up a beautiful plane tree in Hyde Park which revealed a magnificent pink colour for the first few minutes. I got about fifteen trees in the end, transporting them to Petersham Farm near Richmond, where the landlord allowed me to erect a small, fenced enclosure in a horse paddock used by the stables. I hired a portable bandsaw operator from Sussex. He efficiently sliced the remaining trees which, with help from friends and students from a carving class I taught, were then stacked 19mm apart with stickers. I had a variety of ash, oak, plane, elm, lime, and one walnut. I used the very last of the timber, the walnut, in 2020, to make a table, 1.05 wide and 1.80m long with a 0.6m hinged extension at one end, for one of my sons.
I have been given a log of Paulownia now being grown commercially in Britain. It is a hardwood and one of the fastest growing trees in the world. It is strong and very light as you can see! I will try a few furniture design ideas for using this wood for the grower and see what happens. Only balsa wood is lighter, but paulownia has been used for the ‘koto’ (a Japanese instrument), clogs, furniture, and electric guitar bodies.
Here is some of my furniture:
Plane Side Table
This is a quartersawn plane wood side table with Indian rosewood drawer fronts and brass rod detail on the drawers. I made it in St Mungo’s wood workshops after my day’s teaching of carpentry there.
A chair I designed and made for my student show at London College of Furniture in 1986. It is made of birch plywood, 19mm for the sides and two layers of 2.5mm on the curved surfaces.
Aero Table and Chairs
I liked the Aero Chair so used a similar design again for a dining table and chairs. The chairs needed a handle in the back to make them easier to move.
Narrow Hall Shelving
For this project, I made my own plywood with alternating veneers of wenge and anegre, dark and light veneers, and, with a computer router, cut sloping slots to allow light in and show off the contrasts, The drawer handles and fronts were made from the same plywood.
Aero Bathroom Cabinet
Another use of very thin flexible birch play. The ply has water-based gloss white paint hard rubbed into it to give a slightly satin white finish through which the wood grain is still clear. It also makes it easy to keep clean.
Padauk Desk Drawers
Padauk has wonderful colour so I sawed 45* cuts with a slightly blunt circular sawblade which singed the wood and made it even more lively. The drawer bodies are made of plane tree wood. The casing is painted MDF.
This table is made of walnut, the last of the wood I harvested from the 1987 hurricane. It is 1.8m long with a 0.6m hanging extension at the far end. The floor being a bit uneven, I added adjustable feet which make the table level. With the table moved out and with the extension lifted, it can seat a crowded 10-12. I took the table to Somerset with my car and assembled it on site.
Based on a drawing by Saul Steinberg
I made this folding Shoji screen from London plane, old Honduran mahogany plus Finnish birch ply with Japanese mulberry bark paper in 2022. I made two three-screen shoji room dividers in 2021.
I undertake commissions and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The photographs of most of my furniture work were destroyed when my photo lab went bankrupt suddenly and fifteen years of my photographic work were put in a skip.