Archive for the ‘my furniture’ Category

My Second Armoire

February 22, 2009

When I’m asked how my commissions come about, I tend to say less than useful things like “Oh, I dunno, people just come across my work and it takes their fancy”.  The ‘coming across’ of this piece, the second and, very probably, last, armoire of my cabinetmaking career, illustrates the fairly ad hoc, arbitrary, flukey, multi-faceted,….ways in which these things might happen!

I bought a car on Ebay from a guy in Cumbernauld,  a very nice, low mileage, well cared-for classic 900 SAAB.  It transpired he’d only had it a few weeks and probably saw a way to turn it round quickly and make a few (hundred) quid – which was o.k. I’d still got a good sound car for not a lot of money.  Anyway I was contacted by a guy who was the son of the previous, long-term, owner. He had followed the auction on Ebay and was obviously interested to know if it had finished up in good hands. I invited him round to the workshop and hopefully was able to re-assure him on that score.

We got talking about my work and while looking at my portfolio one piece, an armoir in brown oak I had made 20 (?) years ago,  grabbed his attention as it seemed an adaption of it would meet a particular storage and display need in their household.  Of equal importance was that the piece should fulfill its function in an aesthetically satisfying manner. Critically, they had not been able to find anything through the normal furniture acquiring channels that met all their requirements – a bottom-line reason for commissioning a piece.

The predecessor had been in brown oak and the same timber appealed this time round (which led to its own set of problems sourcing the material, see the entry for the Charlotte Chapel lectern below).

Approximate dimensions are H=78″, W=34″ and D=20″.

It was one of my main jobs for 2008 and because of the Simon Scott stuff in fact ran over into Jan of 2009.  I have to thank the clients for their forbearance in that respect.


overview, bottom doors with fielded oak panels, top doors with beveled glass panels


framing and panelling of cabinet back exactly reflects that of the doors


detail of handles on top cabinet doors carved into stiles

Below is a picture of the previous armoire which I guess dates from about 1990

armoire 1990


Burr Elm Table with Magazine Shelf

January 20, 2009

This is an example of an item made to maximize the impact of a particular piece of wood, in this case a stunning slice of burr elm.  Larger holes are patched with small bits of burr and the myriad tiny, irregular holes are filled with so called “cold-cast brass” i.e. brass powder made into a paste with polyester resin which, when set hard, can be cut back and polished.

burr elm table with magazine shelf

detail of top

Charlotte Chapel Bicentenary Lectern

November 23, 2008

As part of their bicentenary celebrations, Charlotte Chapel in Rose street, Edinburgh commissioned the design and build of a new lectern.  I had recently acquired, after much scouring of suppliers (most of whom turned out to be non-suppliers e.g. “haven’t seen any for years” “that’d cost you but I haven’t got any anyway”,”no idea”, “I’m pretty much retired nowadays”), a load of really nice brown oak to be used for the armoire which I am now currently working on.

Brown oak is not a species as such but is oak which, as a living tree, has hosted the beaf-steak fungus. The effect is, over the course of years (decades?, centuries?), to turn the heartwood of the tree a rich brown in colour – rare and much sought after. It was decided, in the context of the chapel interior that this would be a most suitable material with which to do the job.

A post-and-panel construction was agreed.  The main panel incorporates a relief-carved cross.  For stability in use the whole front inclines backwards,( i.e. towards the reader), by 2 degrees. The incised inscription is by the Edinburgh-based lettercarver Roger Hall(who is now on my blogroll) .


Just to show not everything is an end-product, below is a picture of the piece in the making, at the stage of being a skeletal framework


…the structure of the piece is thus made very apparent. Jointing is mortice and tenon. The grooves in the posts to accept the floating panels can be seen.

Chester draws

October 25, 2008

Just a few of the chests of drawers (and similar-type pieces) I have made over the years.

[rockyou id=125438434&w=426&h=319]

display stands

August 3, 2008

A couple of years ago, I made a series of stands for displaying information boards for Historic Scotland. These were different sizes (dependant on the size of the boards) and are in use at Torphichen Preceptory, Seton Collegiate Chapel and Aberdour Castle and are all in oak.  Following on from these earlier this year, i made a much more free-form stand for Ecclesmachan kirkyard.  I used Yew as its heartwood is the most durable of native timber for outdoor use.

Seton collegiate Chapel

stand corner detail

Ecclesmachan Kirkyard

dining table with 2 chairs

May 25, 2008

In elm with burr top to table and burr seats on chairs.

table corner

In case the straight edge to edge jointing of boards is considered to make life too easy, this detail shows the curved jointing between adjacent burr elm boards. The advantage confered by curved jointing when working with burrs is that it allows the retention of patches of burr which would be lost with straight-edge jointing.  For the technically minded, a mating pair of curved edges is produced by copy-routing from matched MDF templates.  For the sinewy curves involved in this table, the templates themselves can be produced quite successfully with one single cut with a  portable jigsaw provided sufficient confidence is displayed. (All rather cryptic but these hints might prove helpful if you’re thinking of trying it).