A Year In Pictures

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Derek Jones

Friday, December 20, 2013

As we move closer to the end of the year, it starts to get a bit difficult to squeeze in workshop time to run a little project for a blog. Instead, I thought I’d have a trawl through this years" magazines and pick some of my highlights.

Out over Christmas last year, our 200th issue was of course something of a milestone for the F&C team. We celebrated 16 years of F&C by blowing the froth off a few in the pub next door and still found time to share with you some of John Bullar’s tips for creating secret compartments. David Charlesworth unleashed the pinnacle of plane tuning and Matthew Platt argued the case for mathematical thinking. Festool’s MFT 3 work table got the thumbs up and so did Veritas’ Jack Rabbet Plane, both of which get used nearly every week, but the lasting image has got to be our cover with Paul Case’s "Spyder" coffee table. It’s hard to impress with just straight lines, but this piece was as stunning when I saw it for real in Manchester later in the year as it was on the cover.

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Issue 201 and The Kings Desk, 75 years in the making was our tribute to one of the most iconic pieces of furniture ever conceived. Yannick Chastang had been tasked with restoring this Francois Linke replica of a Johan Heinrich Riesener masterpiece and it remains one of the most incredible pieces I’ve ever seen.

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In issue 202, we were talking to James Mursell about Windsor chairs and I discovered another tool that is rarely too far from my bench: the Czeck Edge marking knife

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March and issue 203, F&C were granted permission to have a rare glimpse behind the green door at the All England Club. As I recall it was bloomin’ freezing on the day of our shoot and about as far away from the heat on Centre Court when Andy Murray lifted the men’s singles trophy four months later.

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In April this year we sent Jim Hooker up to the V&A to view the new permanent furniture exhibition, the Dr Susan Weber Gallery on the top floor. Long overdue, it has put furniture design, quite literally, on a pedestal with similar crafts for the public to see for free. Which reminds me, I still haven’t been to see it myself yet! Our profile this month was on furniture makers Peter Hall & Son. I met the proprietor Jeremy Hall the year before at Cheltenham when he sprang like a gazelle over several exhibits to remind me that the taking of pictures was strictly forbidden.

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Issue 205 was the first time I had seen Christine Meyer-Eaglestone’s mirror frames with her distinctive geometric patterns. I saw her marquetry for the first time the previous year at Cheltenham. Much to my disappointment it didn’t make the cover then, so here’s the one that got away. In case you’re wondering, it would have been issue 185.

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By June and in issue 206, I had finally completed the renovation of the Stanley No.5 and was trying to convince anyone who would listen that they should pimp their plane. A few did. It cost me a small fortune one way or another but has proven to be worth every penny. The best tools are the ones that put a smile on your face and I’m often seen grinning like a Cheshire cat for no apparent reason when this one gets lifted down from the shelf.

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Issue 207 and a "shop made tool that is as much pleasure to use as it is to make. It’s a classic design made by Colin Sullivan, copied from a lucky find at a boot fair. It’s hard to explain just how natural this shape feels in your hand. I guess you’ll either have to find me at a show next year and hope I’ve got it with me, or make one yourself. Failing that there’s always the boot fair.

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Issue 208 was all about the Northern Contemporary Furniture makers’ exhibition in Manchester and Rob Stoakley’s Hidden Agenda. A craftier little blighter you’d be hard to find.

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September and issue 209 had a feature about gunstock makers Holland & Holland. It’s the article that received the most response from readers. Everyone who got in touch was pretty much blown away by the craftsmanship that goes into making these guns. What can I say? Just awesome.

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This photo brings back memories for all the wrong reasons. If you’ve ever tried to photograph something sharp and shiny, you’ll know what I mean. Add running water to the mix and you’re asking for trouble. It never made the front cover either which is another matter entirely.

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The Dowelmax jig was something of a revelation when it turned up. At first glance, it looks complicated and ever so slightly impractical. But it will probably go down as one of the best bits of kit to land on my bench this year,

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To round off the year, I’ve chosen a photo that never fails to put a smile on my face. For me, it says more about the craft of furniture making than any piece of furniture could ever say. George Callow won gold at the World Skills championships in Leipzig this year in the cabinetmaking category. Put these words in any order: gold, skills, world and you get the feeling that the future of the craft is in good hands. Anything that gets a reaction like this has got to be good.

That’s it from me this side of Christmas. I hope yours is a merry one and if you can, do find time to venture into the workshop over the holidays and try out any tools that may have found their way onto your bench. 2014 is already gearing up to be full of surprises so I look forward to catching up with you on the other side.

All the best to you and yours,

Derek

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