Furniture & Cabinet Making Blog
Archive - January 2012
Week 10 - 30 January 2012
31 January 2012
The best way I can share my enjoyment of the workshops at Rycotewood Furniture Centre is to show you some sneak previews of the creativity unfolding around me. These are pieces of work created by students on the BA and Foundation Degree in Furniture Design & Make, and they will be displayed at our end of year summer show from 18 Ė 23 June 2012, so please keep that date in mind.
This last piece is the work Michael Sewell who has been working with banana veneer made from the waste trunks of the banana industry. This is 100% environmentally friendly and there are four different varieties to buy from wood veneer merchants, Mundy Veneer. Michael chose a variety from the Bahamas due to its pattern and contrast with ash veneer, and says: "Itís a fibrous material thatís a bit difficult to work with due to how thin it is (0.3mm) but the outcome far outweighs this and Iím very happy with the final results."
Tom Parfitt, a fellow second year student, gained an apprenticeship with Benchmark Workshop at the age of 18 and has produced this excellent chair made from walnut and oak. He plans to a make a further three chairs to complete a set.
First year students on the Foundation Degree in Furniture Design & Make have also been reaching completion on their projects with their introduction to the design process of a series of models based on the theme of 'organic'.
And I'll finish some photos of Alex Cload, perfecting his steam-bending skills with the help of fellow students.
(ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE AUTHOR]Contact Sam Bradley
Week 5 - 25 January 2012
25 January 2012
Back in November, Bucks New University held its annual guided learning week, an off-timetable week that gives students the opportunity to participate in other activities. This gave first year students on the BA (Hons) Furniture: Conservation, Restoration & Decorative Arts course the chance to experience their very first restoration project through a client.
Having completed a total refurbishment in 2011, St. Maryís Church in Princes Risborough approached the University with the task of restoring one of its original 6ft-long pine pews circa 1860, and making a new one from the wood of other much longer surplus pews. In preparation for both the restoration work and building of the new pew, the original ones had to be taken apart so that the carpet seat covering could be removed and the previous finish could be sanded off. The pews were then rebuilt with extra support and alterations where necessary, and a final finish was added to make sure that they matched.
The pews are now situated in the church porch, and ahead of the churchís official re-opening the participating students took a visit to see the final result of their hard work and meet the Rev David Williams.
The University has also just started its first run of short courses for the year and I thought I would try my hand at woodcarving!
The course is five sessions long, and takes place over alternating Saturdays. The beginning of the first session was spent holding an in-depth discussion on carving and the tools available. Before we could even put a chisel to wood, it was important that we understood the basics of tool sharpening, as this is an unavoidable part of woodcarving and also greatly affects the quality of mark that a chisel can produce. We were then taken through the wide range of sharpening and polishing techniques, and were given the chance to try them out for ourselves.
The dayís task was to create a selection of carved circles on a piece of lime wood, which was in no way as easy as it sounds! It was a first attempt at woodcarving for most people and the point of the exercise was to give us the chance to experiment with some of the different types of chisel. The task required a small and large gouge as well as a small and large V-shaped chisel.
I think itís safe to say that by the end of the day all our arms were starting to ache!
Back on the furniture restoration course, we have just begun our next project, which is to make a Gimson mortised and tenoned ladder-back chair. This is our first major project and will require hand and machine skills. It will also form the basis for both an upholstery and finishing exercise. The project requires us to create a logbook for recording our planning and investigating, and it will also teach us how to produce written work for clients, a skill that is incredibly important for employment.
Images, from top to bottom:
1. Voila! The finished articles (Photograph by Dean Valler)
2. The team with course leader Paul Tear and Rev David Williams (Photograph by Dean Valler)
3. Creating carved circles in lime wood using various chisels
(Photograph by Amber Bailey)
4. Marking out the measurements for the mortises on the back legs of the Gimson chair (Photograph by Amber Bailey)
5. Creating my Chair Log (Photograph by Amber Bailey)Contact Amber Bailey
Shine on you crazy lac beetles
20 January 2012
Just in case you were wondering, the wardrobe build went to plan over the holidays and is now in active service. I didnít make the doors myself; time and budget wouldnít stretch and as the whole shebang was painted there seemed little point. I had these run out by a local firm, The Cupboard Door Co. in Seaford out of 25mm MR/mdf. The rest of the sheet material was cut to size by a local timber yard leaving me with just the assembly. Apart from the butt hinges the only cabinet work (I use the term loosely) was to pop in a couple of Dominoes to make the frame. Itís been a while since Iíve done anything like this so it took a little longer than it should. Iíd also forgotten just how much time you spend ferrying materials around and getting all your kit on site. At a cursory glance, I estimated the best part of £2,000 worth of tools and equipment scattered around the floor to do the job. If youíre making a living out of doing stuff like this I take my hat off to you.
Iíve just started work on my second book for GMC to be published later this year. The subject has taken me right back to where my fascination for furniture began and the art French polishing. There is a whole generation who can remember precisely where they were and what they were doing at a given time in history. Take 3 February 1959 for instance; the day the music died or 22 November 1963; the day President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. My first day at work was made memorable by the announcement that Sid Viscous had been found dead. I wouldnít say he was a hero of mine but the event brought to a close a chapter of my life just as another began. Anyway Iím drifting off course, what I wanted to share with you was a little project that I completed this week to demonstrate a simple method of identifying whether a finish is shellac. Being able to read the age of a piece of furniture is a great help in the first place. This window seat dates from around the mid 1830s. We know from records that shellac was first used in the early part of the 19th century so shellac could have been used.
On an inconspicuous part I dabbed a little meths onto the surface and along side it an equal amount of white spirit. A wipe with a clean cloth removed a film of polish where the meths was but nothing more than dirt from where the white spirit laid. As shellac was the only alcohol based finish likely to have been used at the time it was reasonably safe to assume that this was the stuff alright. A light clean with white spirit and it was time to run over the seat with some garnet polish and a rubber. A quick wipe over with some wax and then buffed off it was ready for the next 170 odd years. Iíd like to see them do this with water based and pre-cat lacquers in years to come.
Images, from top to bottom:
1. A Mahogany window seat from the William IV period from between 1830 and 1837
2. Meths on a cotton bud to help identify the finish
3. Meths removed a film of polish where white spirit removed only dirt
4. Out with the rubber and some garnet polish
5. Apply a thin coat of waxÖ
6. Öand itís back to the customerContact Derek Jones
Week 8, 16 January 2012
17 January 2012
Thank you to Derek Jones and Amber Bailey, and a Happy New Year to you all.
Design students at Rycotewood Furniture Centre have been exploring and researching the market for smaller items of products for sale (e.g. breadboards, jewellery boxes and small tables), and reviewing which places could carry out this commercial activity. As a result, a pilot study group of third year BA design students made some products for the Christmas Market at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College (OCVC) - they made sales of over £400 and the comments from buyers provided a valuable insight into product design and pricing.
As mentioned in Amberís blog last week, the NSF Furniture History Society enjoyed a visit to the Gordon Russell Museum in Broadway, Worcestershire, shortly before Christmas. Soon after this, and thanks to the untiring help of the volunteers, the Museum was able to take part in the local Broadway Tradersí Association annual Christmas late night shopping event. The Curator dressed the Museumís window and arranged for seasonal stock to be available to late night shoppers, who were given free entry to the Museum that evening.
When the Museum re-opens in February 2012, visitors will have the opportunity to see an exhibition featuring the designs of Tom Pugh, Peter Beckley and Ben Croft, who, as students at Rycotewood, received the Gordon Russell prize for their outstanding work in 2009, 2010 and 2011. This is to be the first in a series of exhibitions highlighting contemporary design, and it will be held on the first floor of the Museum - more information will be available later in the New Year.
Back at Rycotewood, Linn Narane, a fellow second year student on the Foundation Degree in Furniture Design and Make, has won a bursary of £500 from the South Mercia area group of NADFAS (National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies). The bursary will support her continuing professional development and enhance her studies through project work.
Linn said: "I am going to use the award to fund a chair design-and-make project with a seat made from Cork."
Chris Hyde, Head of the NSF at OCVC, added: "We are very grateful for the support and sponsorship NADFAS give our students. In addition to the main award, NADFAS have also sponsored five other student material bursaries across the Foundation Degree in Furniture Design and Make course."
Linn and the other five awardees will be exhibiting their work at the NSF summer show at OCVC, due to take place on 18 June 2012.
Images, from top to bottom:
1. Christmas Market at OCVC (PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS HYDE)
2. The Gordon Russell Museum Christmas window (PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS HYDE)
3. L-R: Sally Dicketts (Principal of OCVC); Gill Hitchenor (NADFAS); Linn Narane; Gill Stevens (NADFAS); Chris Hyde (Head of the NSF at OCVC). (PHOTOGRAPH BY JOE BRAY)Contact Sam Bradley
Happy New Year!
05 January 2012
Welcome to the first student blog of 2012 and a very Happy New Year from The National School of Furniture. Just before we left for the Christmas break, Bucks New Universityís newly established NSF Furniture History Society underwent its very first trip.
The Society aims to enhance the historical knowledge of students across all the furniture courses; this is achieved through a variety of lectures and visits. I am fortunate enough to act as secretary for the Society, and in the short time that it has been running we have already organised lectures with Dr Lynn Jones about her work in establishing The National School of Furniture and with Professor Jake Kaner on his involvement in setting up the High Wycombe Electronic Furniture Archive.
So, on 14th December the Society went on a visit to the Gordon Russell Museum in Broadway, Worcestershire. The Museum is located in an original workshop and features an extensive collection of the furniture that elevated Sir Gordon Russell MC to his status of a renowned figurehead in 20th century furniture design. The Society was also fortunate to view several of the original furniture design plans and talk in depth to members of the museum staff regarding their personal connections to Sir Gordon.
On going home for Christmas, I took the opportunity to fit in some extra workshop practice under my father's guidance. With a background in the industry, his comprehensive knowledge on routers has led to him to write several books on the subject, one of which he is currently revising. Helping him with a project for the book not only gave me more experience with routing but it also provided a brief insight into the world of publishing and the techniques used in photographing furniture.
The project I worked on was a set of chemist drawers, creating a carcass that was jointed together using the tongue and groove technique on a 'shelf-type' router table. The cutter required to produce the grooves was a 3.2mm twin flute TCT straight cutter and the tongues required a small TCT tenoning cutter, whilst the back panel used a 6.4mm solid TCT straight cutter. As well as working on the project, we also went about experimenting with other cutters to give me an idea of the vast selection available and the endless possibilities that can be created.
Images, from top to bottom:
1. Members of the NSF Furniture History Society outside the Gordon Russell Museum (Photograph by Amber Bailey)
2. Furniture design plans that are stored in groups of 50 within numbered chest of drawers, and are on display at The Gordon Russell Museum (Photograph by Amber Bailey)
3. A chest-on-stand that demonstrates the innovative design features that Sir Gordon Russell MC and his Company were renowned for (Photograph by Amber Bailey)
4. Routing the grooves into both sides of the chemist drawers carcass (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)
5. The two sides of the carcass following the routing of the grooves (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)
6. Gluing and fitting the carcass sides and shelf divisions (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)
7. The carcass clamped together after gluing (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)
8. A wide selection of the router cutters available (Photograph by Amber Bailey)
9. Practising under my fatherís guidance with his veteran ELU 177E fitted with a large roundover cutter (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)
10. Creating a trial section of skirting board using a large Grecian ogee TCT cutter on a half-inch shank (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)
11. Two sections of skirting board fitted together to create a joint (Photograph by Anthony Bailey)Contact Amber Bailey