A chance meeting with an old friend led to me being commissioned to make an Arts and Crafts Style Sideboard from Solid Oak.
The customer had been searching for several years for a sideboard to match a piece he had purchased from another maker alas no longer with us, so he wanted to match the style, and as important it had to fit a particular space in his house.
Over a period of time with an exchange of drawings and pictures the final design was arrived at, and a space found in the diary.
As can be seen from the photos I started with 26 planks of solid Norfolk Oak supplied by my local forester which had to be milled to size, and jointed to create the board sizes I needed, which then over a period of 3 weeks was transformed into the finished piece. Even the handles were made in the workshop.
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With a few days spare between projects I have been looking ahead to the summer where I shall be exhibiting at some Rural Shows in the East of England. I earn my living as a wheelwright, a maker of wooden wheels, and that’s what I will be primarily concentrating on. However in an effort to broaden my appeal I shall be featuring some of the other wooden items I make including my latest project.
Which brings me nicely to the latest item to emerge from my workshop, a rocking chair. Over the years I have made a number of rocking chairs including a double rocking bench for the Garden. The common theme or style is the American Shaker style. I rather appreciate the elegant simple lines, and having studied a number of books on the subject I have come to understand the simplicity of design is matched with a ruthless efficiency designed to maximise the raw materials and reduce labour costs.
As wheelwrights we build the rims of wooden wheels in sections, by cutting them out of a solid plank, therefore when we were looking to make the rockers in the past we cut them out of a solid plank. The shaker method is too steam a straight piece of wood into shape, Cutting a straight piece is much faster than shaping a curve, and by steaming it into shape you reduce considerably your waste material. So for this project out came my steam box for the rockers, the back posts, and the curved back sections.
For this project I have used Beech wood, an excellent wood for furniture and steaming, but if I am honest its not the most exciting grain pattern to look at, therefore a perfect opportunity to try Black Polish something I have had waiting on the shelf for the right project to come along. The end result as you can see from the picture is rather smart but it could be suggested has strayed away from Shaker towards Gothic, or has been suggested a “Nervous Goth” ( shaky gothic).