Mid Century Style Plywood Cabinet

This compact cabinet was the fits alongside the Wall Shelves and Coffee Table I delivered back in March. Made from birch ply with elm handles the cabinet features a main cupboard and single drawer. The solid elm top is shaped to match the coffee table and ‘floats’ on a recessed piece of 6mm plywood to create a nice shadow line. Off cuts from the top where used to make the simple handles that add to the clean mid century style.

Compact mid century styled cabinet

Compact mid century styled cabinet

Floating top on 6mm ply

Floating top on 6mm ply

Single piece elm cabinet top

Single piece elm cabinet top


Inverurie Elm

Back in January I spent a couple of days up in Inverurie milling Elm with Keith Threadgall and Tom Cooper. Despite the cold weather we got some good cutting done and graded through 7 tonnes of logs. We were fortunate to be able to pick and choose from 20 plus tonnes of Elm to get a good mix of straight grain, character and burr boards. Lengths varied from 1500 to 2800mm and upto 500mm wide which we cut to our usual sizes of 32, 40 and 54mm thickness with a few boards at 60mm too.

We got the boards hauled down to the workshops at the end of february and we’ve been getting them stacked and stickered ready for air drying since then. We decided to give everything a good dose of Borax (ACS Boratreat 10p) to stop and fungal infection and sticker marks from spoiling the wood. Hopefully the Borax will deter woodworm from feasting on the fresher wood. Most of the elm has come from standing deadwood and has a much lower moisture content and less sap wood so we’re not anticipating too much trouble with wood borers…

Just need to wait a year or so before we can get this into the kiln and dry it down to 8 - 10% moisture content ready for use. Gives me plenty of time to decide what to make from it - any suggestions?


Mid Century Wall Shelves & Coffee Table

I like it when I client gives me a challenging brief that requires some lateral thought. On paper this was a simple set of shelves with a mid century modern feel to display personal items and house a small flatscreen tv. The challenge was to make a 4 x 2 meter run of shelves in sections that could be easily transportable and simple to install with minimal wall fixings. Oh and it had to float off the wall to avoid cutouts in the uprights for the skirting board and keep a clean vertical line.

Thankfully the client’s design broke down into two main sections - the ‘bookcase’ on the far left and then ‘tv shelves’ on the far right. The section in between is bridged by a series of individual shelves that tie the whole thing together. Each section is comprised of 18mm birch ply components which are either permanently glued together or use ‘knock down’ fittings to join them. The ‘tv shelves’ are made from character elm boards to bring a richer hue to the piece and are profiled with a curve shape. A small coffee table completes the commission with a birch ply base and elm top in a simple mid century style.

Mid century wall shelves.jpg
Birch ply and elm coffee table in mid century style.

Birch ply and elm coffee table in mid century style.

Sketchup model of the shelves with ‘sketchy’ render.

Sketchup model of the shelves with ‘sketchy’ render.

Laying out on the floor was the only way to test the assembly…

Laying out on the floor was the only way to test the assembly…

Sitting Comfortably - Car Seat Armchair mk2

Back in 2015 I made a pair of TopGear inspired carseat armchairs for a client. Well just last week I delivered an updated version of the design. This time for a beloved seat from a Volvo 940, the chair features a laminated one piece armrest / rear leg. This gives a nice swept feel to the piece and a a sense of momentum.

Made from scottish elm with oak used for design details and pinstripes. Through wedged tenons have been used extensively to give a very strong frame with a decorative element. The arm and legs have been profiled on the router with a Queen Ann cutter to give a gentle radius to the edge. This gives a real tactile feel to the piece that adds to the overall comfort.

Dining or Kitchen Bench

I finished this handsome Dining Bench just in time for this years Scottish Furniture Makers Association Annual Exhibition. A stunning matched pair of elm boards make the seat with walnut dovetail keys tying the pair together. A hand planed curved edge gives a multi-faceted edge to the the seat. This treatment is also applied to the bench frame which softens the profile and encourages you to touch the tactile edge.

Found an old map...

I was browsing in an antique shop in Edinburgh and stumbled upon an old map of Dalkeith. Looking more closely I saw that it had the army camp that forms Newbattle Abbey Business Park in full detail. The woods and grounds are littered with old foundations and bits of drainage etc which obviously once formed part of the camp. This map proved what I’d always thought - the camp was obviously much bigger than it is now.

1945 map showing full camp layout

1945 map showing full camp layout

Camp layout now showing buildings that no longer stand. Some of those left are empty shells…

Camp layout now showing buildings that no longer stand. Some of those left are empty shells…

Reclaimed Teak Sink Stand

The first project of 2018 completed and delivered yesterday - a sink stand made from the client's own reclaimed teak and mahogany. The brief called for a simple chunky design with angled legs with a single shelf for towels etc.  

The reclaimed teak looked quite tatty and tired when I picked it up but after scraping and sanding off the old varnish and dirt the lovely rich grain was uncovered. Teak is one of the most oily tropical hardwoods there is and unsurprisingly all the machinery that came into contact with it was coated in an oily residue in no time. It actually machined very well unlike the mahogany -which has a reversing grain. Fortunately the drum sander was ideal for smoothing off the rough surfaces and is a life saver with difficult timber like this. In order to get the thickness required for the tops and shelf I laminated two layers of boards together in the bagpress to give a finished thickness of 54mm. 

Finished with a penetrating oil (Osmo Extra Thin) the grain really came alive and the contrast between the chocolate brown teak and rich red mahogany worked really well. This was the first time I've used tropical hardwoods for a whole project and it was interesting to learn a few new techniques. Not sure I'd be keen to do more work in tropical timber as I prefer native species but I have to admit that the grain and tones of the wood do look pretty cool.

Let there be light...

Following on from the earlier prototype I've recently finished another wood veneer lamp. This one is in ash with elm framework and lovely burr elm base. The lamp shade is much taller at 700mm which works really well with the veneer grain running vertically. The ash is a lighter blond coloured wood and lets through more light due to the more open grain. Overall this lamp stands at 900mm tall which is perfect for a feature lamp in a living room or hallway. 

Homegrown walnut tables

This commission for set of tables came from a chance encounter with an old friend at Glasgow Queens Street station over 2 years ago. My friend had a neighbour with a walnut tree in their back garden that was due to come down as it had grown too big. Details were exchanged and over the following years I helped arrange for the tree to be felled, planked and carefully dried. The owners were very keen to have something made from it as a memento of the tree that their children had grown up with. Although quite a young tree (in tree years) I felt sure that we would get some usable timber from it. As it turned out the risk was worth taking and the end result was a set of unique tables featuring a homegrown walnut table top(s) and Scottish elm frames. Although not the rich chocolate brown of mature walnut the timber has a lovely woody quality to it and the perfect provenance - from back garden to living room.

The design brief was to create a set of tables that could be used as a main dining table and pair of side tables which could be placed at either end of the main table for family get togethers.