A Dockside Cabin

A chance conversation about replacing a half size gyspy caravan led to us designing and building this Dockside Cabin at Canary Wharf, West India Quay. The Customer Skuna Boats who operate the UKs first floating Hot Tubs and Barbeque Boats wanted a modern stylish space in which they could greet customers. The Planners wanted something very traditional in keeping with the location and Heritage of the Area.

The final design is the product of several months discussions, during which time the scheme changed radically. The original carriage lost its the wheels turning it from a carriage to a cabin. When fully fitted it will incorporate a Bar, An Ice Cream Counter, and a Lounge Area. All within a very compact 3.5 x 4.5mts.

On the outside it is a traditional Dockside cabin with black corrugated Iron Sides with a curved roof, and porthole windows. On the inside however its bright and airy, with a modern trendy design reflecting the company and its customers.

From start to finish the project took six weeks with three weeks in the workshop making the roof beams, doors with portholes and porthole shutters. This was followed by three assembly weeks on site. In addition to the structure we have also made a copper pipe chandelier and illuminated mirror.

We have now been commissioned to create a very modern Bar and Ice Cream Counter so watch this space

Arts and Crafts Style Sideboard

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.

If you have a piece of furniture you would like then get in to

Shaker Style?

A Shaker style stool. Turned Cherry wood with a Woven rush top

There is a natural affinity between making wheels and making chairs, both require similar tools and techniques. Both involve working with wood, jointing it at odd angles,  turning on a lathe and steaming wood to shape. We cut similar joints, circular tenon’s and use the same tools to cut and shape the wood, Drawknives and Spoke Shaves

If you look back in History before the days of industrialisation, The wheelwright would create anything made out of wood for a village in the same way the blacksmith would craft anything from metal. So in addition to wheels the wheelwright would make furniture, and even serve as the undertaker, building the coffins and the hearse. Now it so happens I have made a few coffins for theatrical purposes, however that’s a facet of life I am quite prepared to let others deal with.

So Whilst I may have bypassed Coffin making I continue the practice of a wheelwright who looks at all forms of wood work, in particular I practice the trade  of a Chair Doctor. I make new and repair old chairs. I am particularly fond of making Shaker style chairs and rocking chairs, I appreciate the design and it fits my skill set. Turned wooden legs and woven seats be it rush, cane, or shaker tape. The picture at the top shows a shaker style bench, with turned cherry wood with a woven rush cord seat. A product of our workshop. If you would like one or something similar get in touch.

Repairing Wooden Wheels

I frequently get asked to repair wooden carriage wheels, and they are always a voyage of adventure as you never know what your going to find, which also makes it the hardest to price, which is another problem as everyone wants to know before you start what its going to cost.

A broken spoke

A typical example would be the wheel in the picture which came in to have a broken spoke replaced. In order to replace the spoke you have to first remove the rubber tyre, steel rim, and a section of felloe to get to it. Usually at this point I discover all manner of issues, and that the old time craftsmen where just as capable of a “bodge Job” as modern ones.

So the blue wheel pictured illustrates this perfectly. It came in with a broken spoke which turned out to be rotten and riddled with wood worm to a point where the wood crumbled away when touched. The Carriage had obviously not moved for a while and water had got into the joint between felloes and spokes, causing the felloes to swell and also rot along with the end of several spokes. Our tale of woe continues as the wheel I suspect originally from America  with steam bent felloes covering 7 spokes each, rather than the European Sawn felloes which conventionally bridge 2 spokes, had previously been worked on, and one half of the wheel steamed felloes had been replaced with sawn, some of which were solid and some rotten, all of which had been hidden under many layers of paint.

To cut a long story short I ended up replacing several spokes, most of the felloes, but retained the hub, rubber tyre and steel rim which were refitted. Once its had  a new coat of paint its good to go, back on the carriage.

The finished wheel before the tyre is fitted