The sentimental furniture maker

Jun 16, 2013 in Chris Tribe Blog | No Comments

drawer fitting projectThis blog first appeared on my previous site on 20/11/11.

In 1985, when I was working as a systems analyst for Calderdale Council, whilst cycling to work I spotted an oak occasional table dumped by the side of the road. I returned in the evening to pick it up in the car. The top turned out to be made in very fine quarter saw oak with a beautiful pink hue. I used some of this wood in the drawers of one of the first pieces I made as a professional furniture maker. Since then it has lived in my collection of off cuts, turning up occasionally like an old friend when I’ve thought “Some day I’ll make something nice with this”

Recently I decided to make a prototype set of two small drawers for a planned dovetailing and drawer fitting course. My old friend soon cropped up and I realized it was just right for the drawer sides. The carcase was to be in walnut. Sorting through my stocks I found some more old friends, some small boards of American walnut bought many years ago from a joiner selling up his stock on retirement, the pieces were reputed to be forty years old when I bought them.

So the prototype is made from a number of old friends that have lived in my workshop for many years. I think this gives the piece a certain quality, I certainly felt I had to put extra effort into the making to justify the use of the wood. For most projects I use timber bought from Duffields, our nearest reliable wood yard, but I think it is important to have a few friends living in your wood stack. It gives you a sense of place and identity with your material.

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