Month: June 2018

The Key to Consistent and Beautiful Woodworking Design

sawdust-design.JPG

How do you go about designing a woodwork piece? Whether it’s furniture, or cabinets, or a more craft based type of woodwork— how do you design it? You can have a different technique for different types of projects. But I believe that if you want to be a successful woodwork designer/maker you must have a process. I’ve had this conversation with other woodworkers and not all agree with my viewpoint. Some arguments are; that having a design process isn’t very creative; or that some of the best work is done on-the-fly; or that it wastes time if you already know in your head what you want to make. I still stand by my argument. Here’s why.

A process is especially important if designing and making woodwork is your livelihood. But even if you’re a hobbyist it’s just as important for getting the most out of your time. A process is like a formula for success that you follow every time that gives you consistent results. It actually saves you time. If you have a process you never get stuck or have a woodworking equivalent of creative block or writer’s block. Instead you follow your process, and ideas flow. Following a process also removes a lot of opportunities for error. Especially if part of your process involves 3D modelling and producing a cutlist.

A hugely important part of woodwork or joinery design is setting out. I’ve done my fair share of setting out as part of a larger joinery design team that produced designs for up to 70 woodworkers out on a production floor. Setting out is producing accurate working drawings plus a cutlist to be followed for construction of a piece. Your drawing accuracy must be absolutely spot on when others are going to build a piece from your drawings and cutlist. In order to remove any opportunities for error it is vital to follow a process.

Everyone’s process will be a little different. Mine is very simple. I scribble and sketch any and every idea that comes into my head into a sketchbook. I even roughly draw the terrible ideas too. This helps me develop the general form and shape of the piece. I then take my outline into SketchUp and apply any measurement constraints that need to be taken into account. I work out what joinery methods are to be used. Then it’s refine, refine, refine. The small details make all the difference. Bevels, chamfers, tapers all can elevate a piece to a higher level.

Every time I go to make a piece, I know exactly what I’m going to do. I follow the steps of my process one after the other. I can design most projects in under an hour and am ready to start cutting then. I don’t spend ages staring into a blank screen, or out in the workshop holding pieces of timber up to each other to see what might work. I get consistent results all the time— quickly. This is ultra important if woodworking is your livelihood. Slightly less so if you’re a hobbyist.

But everyone has their own way. You just need to find what works for you.

Think about your design process. Do you have one? I love that my process helps me reduce errors, save time, produce designs consistently, and become more efficient. I honestly can’t think of a downside.

I’d love to know what you think in the comments below.

P.S. If you liked this article, you may also like to get free and practical tips on woodworking techniques, business growth, productivity, and more in your inbox each week (you’ll also get the “How to Make a Living From Woodworking” PDF guide). Simply SIGN UP HERE to get exclusive access to a wealth of knowledge.

This post appeared first on https://www.sawdustetc.com

“I talk to so many extremely talented woodworkers that make beautiful work. But we all have the same problem. We like making it but are not really sure how to sell it.”: Antony Elliot Interview

Credit: Elliot Design

Credit: Elliot Design

Finding woodwork and furniture with a unique aesthetic can be a challenge at times. So when I first saw the honeycomb resin work of Antony Elliot I took notice straight away. It is so interesting and appealing to look at, and it really helps to set his work apart. I had never seen anything like it before.

But, no woodworker wants any one style, or one piece to define their work. This is also the case with Antony. He hasn’t limited himself and is constantly evolving and improving his designs. It’s the small details like leg chamfers and base profiles that make his work so good.

Based in his home workshop in Yorkshire, England— Antony is a designer, maker, and woodworker. He makes bespoke wood products ranging from lighting, to furniture, to key-rings. I caught up with him recently to find out a little more about him and his work.

 

 

Dónal Moloney: Antony, I appreciate you giving up your time to answer some questions, so thank you. I’d like to start at the beginning of your career. How did you get into woodworking? Was it something you started straight out of school? And was it something you had wanted to do, or something you just fell into?

Antony Elliot: Long story. My dad was a chief engineer on cruise ships. When he was home on leave he did everything around the house, and he did woodturning as a hobby. I always loved helping him and making things growing up. We restored an ‘82 Mini together when I was sixteen. After school I did A-levels, then went to Coventry University and got an M.Des in consumer product design. Whilst at Uni I did a work placement at Pearson Matthews Design Consultancy and spent most of my time in the rapid prototyping shop. Here is where everything took a detour, I had a stressful final year at Uni and after graduating I just wanted to get a summer job and have a few months back up north at home before heading out to look for a job. I fell into a job working for O’Neill surf shop— eventually becoming the manager. I never disliked it there, I got to work with like minded people, but I never really loved it. I really liked doing work on the house in my spare time and started designing and making a few wooden things. After twelve years of working at the shop and expecting our first child I found out they were closing the shop and I was being made redundant…. So I found myself with a bit of a chunk of redundancy money. I invested in a few decent tools, had a few months off with Gemma and Jed and started making some things. I started immersing myself and trying to learn as much as I could. A real turning point was watching some videos of Jory Brigham. He has a style that is similar to what was in my head and watching how he put things together made me think; I understand this, and I think with some practice and hard work I could do this. I started by making wooden lamps. They don’t require a lot of material and focusing on a small object means that the details and finish have to be perfect. Around this time I also started working with a very talented local carpenter working on a loft conversion. I was doing my own thing on the days he didn’t need me. I really learned a lot from him in a short period of time. A really good friend of mine had also just bought a house in London to renovate so I started travelling down there to help him four days a week. When he didn’t need me I was at home making furniture. Since finishing the London house I’ve just had my first year fully focusing on doing what I want to do (with a few other little renovation jobs thrown in around it).

 

Credit: Elliot Design

Credit: Elliot Design

 

DM: One of my reasons for doing this series of interviews is to talk to woodworkers who create great work. I think your work is outstanding. I’ve never seen anyone else do the type of honeycomb resin work you do. It is so interesting, unique, and beautiful. Where did you come up with the idea for doing this? Is it a process you enjoy doing? What are the challenges in producing this type of work?

AE: I saw something similar somewhere but only focusing on the top view, and became a bit obsessed with trying to recreate it, so I bought some resin and some aluminium honeycomb and pigments and had an experiment trying to create a small sheet of it in a silicone mould. It was a disaster, didn’t work anything like I thought it would and shelved the idea for over a year. This was all before resin was such a big thing, and it was mainly used to just fill and stabilise knots. I watched quite a few videos on YouTube with people mixing pigments to best match the wood colour, and decided I was using the wrong kind of resin. Anyone worth their salt was using West Systems epoxy. I had a piece of timber that had a big soft knot that had fallen out so I thought I would have a go at filling it with resin but to be a bit different I would do a contrasting colour and drop some of the honeycomb in there. It was a massive disaster, I used a fast set resin, and poured loads of it in the hole that was about 35mm deep, the result was a massive exothermic reaction, it started smoking frothed up and I thought I was going to set the workshop on fire. I ended up routing out the mess and re-pouring the top 10mm of the resin, and this worked out okay. I posted about it on Instagram, got some feedback from a few people and figured out I needed the slow set and to limit the thickness of the pours.

The more distinctive part of the honeycomb resin (the edge) came about a bit by accident, I made a coat rack and found that when I cut away the edge on an angle that it created some really interesting depths of colour and triangular shapes. The off cut from this I initially binned but then I got it out of the bin and cut up and made into key-rings. I posted them up on instagram I didn’t think anyone would buy one but they sold out in about 30 minutes. So from then on it was all about putting the focus on the cut-away edge. It can be a bit hit and miss, sometimes you get very uniform areas that aren’t as interesting as others. I’m by no means a resin expert but I’ve found a method that works for what I want to achieve. I do enjoy the resin part, you never quite know what you will get until you cut away the edge.

However I don’t want everything I do to be about this technique. I’m actually not a fan of the big resin pours or resin river tables, mainly because too many people are doing it now. It’s not really anything unique anymore. I always like to try and do something a bit different to what other people are doing. I like to try and keep my resin details to be a small feature on a piece, and not every piece warrants it..

 

Credit: Elliot Design

Credit: Elliot Design

 

DM: You’re a one-man business. Like many of us, you work alone in a workshop all day. From my own experience this has obvious positives and negatives. Tell me about how you like to structure your day. Do you relish the peace, or are you keen for more human interaction? And as a one-man show, what are the business challenges you face?

AE: I work from a small home workshop that is great as my commute requires about 10 steps out the back door. The lack of space can be incredibly frustrating at times though. And I can’t work at unsociable hours as I have neighbours nearby. I would love to have something bigger and better equipped in the future. An extremely good local kitchen maker Paul Barrow very kindly lets me go and use some of his big machines when I need to.

Creatively I have always worked better as a part of a group, I really like sparking ideas off other people. Although sometimes you just have to trust your instinct, other people’s input can dilute good ideas down too much. I really like Instagram. There is a really nice group of people that are incredibly supportive of what I’m doing that I chat to regularly and respect the opinion of. It takes the sting out of being on your own all day.

I can’t say I have a set structure to my day. It often depends on how motivated/creative I’m feeling. If I’ve not got any paid work on, I do try and go out to the workshop and just do something. I do find myself sitting out there for hours holding bits of wood up and trying to create something, or sitting sketching ideas. I think it would be better sometimes just to go out on my bike for a bit. It’s a kind of self imposed feeling of guilt when you are self-employed that you should always be trying to do things. I think the hip Americans on Instagram call it #hustle. Once I get something in my head I’m extremely focused. Everything else goes out the window, I even forget to stop to drink tea.

The business side is a tricky one. Some parts I’m okay with. From my previous experience as a retail manager keeping track of expenses etc, and the customer service side of things I know what I’m doing.

Marketing is an area that I really struggle on. I am looking at ways of trying to get my work noticed and start getting some more work coming through. Currently what I’m doing is making things and trying to sell them, building up my portfolio of work at the same time. I know its not the best business plan at the moment. I do have a shop in Shoreditch in London that takes anything I make to sell on a sale or return basis. I have been lucky that in the past year I have had two customers in particular that have commissioned quite a lot of furniture from me, and both have given me quite a bit of creative freedom in terms of the design too.

 

Credit: Elliot Design

Credit: Elliot Design

 

DM: The Jed stool that you designed for your son, is one of my favourite pieces of yours. I’m sure one day when he’s older he will appreciate the beautiful craftsmanship a little more than he does now! What would you like your legacy to be for your family? How would you like your work, and your working life to be looked upon when you finish working?

AE: That chamfer on the leg that I use a lot was also a bit of an accident! It was before I had a router table and took a bit of a gouge out of the legs routing with a template and copying ring, so I ended up having to put a big chamfer on it to get rid of the gouge. It turned out so much better for doing so.

I hope that my family don’t ever say, we never saw him, all he did was work all the time, but I also hope they say that I worked hard.

I can’t imagine that as long as my mind and body are willing I will ever stop making things. I get twitchy if I don’t have anything to do. I find it hard going away on holiday. I like being busy doing things. What I really like about making things with my hands is that you start with some rough sawn timber, you put your mind and body into it, and become obsessed with every little detail of it. Then at the end there is something that you can see, and touch. It’s not like selling a t-shirt to someone.

Credit: Elliot Design

Credit: Elliot Design

 

DM: How do you define success? And do you consider yourself successful?

AE: I’m not really sure about this one. I would overall probably say; not yet. If you define success by selling lots of furniture and making loads of money then definitely not! Like I said earlier I’ve only really been fully focusing on this for about a year. I see and talk to so many extremely talented woodworkers especially on Instagram, that make beautiful work but we all have the same problem. We like making it but are not really sure how to sell it. In an ideal world I would mainly like to make what I want to make then try and sell it. With a few commissions thrown in, I think you need commissions to push you into doing different things you might not normally do.

On the other hand, I really love what I’m doing. I’m not stressed out, I make enough money to pay the bills, and I’ve made furniture that I am really proud of. I just need a few more people paying me to do it!

 

DM: What advice would you give a young Antony Elliot embarking on his woodworking career?

AE: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Those mistakes can sometimes turn out better than what you planned originally.

 

Credit: Elliot Design

Credit: Elliot Design

 

QUICKFIRE:

DM: What was the last tool you bought?

AE: 150mm Shinwa ruler. I buy them 3 at a time. Not big or flashy but there is always one in my pocket and I use it every day.

 

DM: If you weren’t a woodworker, what other profession do you think you’d be good at?

AE: I would love to make props for films, especially something like Star Wars. That or, I really like being outdoors in nature and mountain biking, so maybe something to do with that.

 

DM: What app on your phone best helps you to do your job?

AE: Instagram – immediate feedback from peers, always learning new ways of doing things from people all over the world. If you don’t know how to do something you can ask and find out. I find it an incredibly supportive and friendly community of people. I’m always incredibly humbled when infinitely more talented people than me like what I’m doing. I feel a bit out of my depth being interviewed along side some of the other people who have featured on this blog.

 

DM: What is the most profitable/lucrative type of work you do?

AE: Bigger bespoke furniture items.

 

DM: What’s your favourite tune to blast out in the workshop?

AE: Frank Turner – losing days. One of the hardest working, and best live acts around at the moment in my opinion.

 

THANKS

I’d like to thank Antony for taking the time to answer my questions. I’ve admired his work for a while now. It has a very unique style, and a clean, elegant look. He shouldn’t feel out of his depth at any point. His work stands up with anyone else’s. The point of these interviews on Sawdust Etc is to learn more about the people who do great work. Whether these woodworkers are internationally renowned or not is irrelevant. Awards, Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers, or Facebook likes don’t matter. What matters to me are the interesting insights from people who do great work. Antony certainly fits the bill.

To find out more;

http://www.elliot-design.co.uk

https://www.instagram.com/elliotdesignuk/

 

P.S. If you liked this article, you may also like to get free and practical tips on woodworking techniques, business growth, productivity, and more in your inbox each week (you’ll also get the “How to Make a Living From Woodworking” PDF guide). Simply SIGN UP HERE to get exclusive access to a wealth of knowledge.

This post appeared first on https://www.sawdustetc.com

The Correct Way to Chisel Corners

Credit: Marc Spagnuolo

Credit: Marc Spagnuolo

Unless you live under a rock, or don’t have internet— you know who Marc Spagnuolo is. The Wood Whisperer has been dishing out a wealth of techniques, tips, and tricks for years. Earlier this week, he posted this great video on chiselling out corners.

It’s short, to the point, and full of great tips. Every woodworker is faced with this issue if you use a router to create cuts and need the corners to be square.

Head back over to the website if you haven’t visited in a while. It’s always full of good stuff.

https://www.thewoodwhisperer.com

P.S. If you liked this article, you may also like to get free and practical tips on woodworking techniques, business growth, productivity, and more in your inbox each week (you’ll also get the “How to Make a Living From Woodworking” PDF guide). Simply SIGN UP HERE to get exclusive access to a wealth of knowledge.

This post appeared first on https://www.sawdustetc.com

What’s The Secret to Happiness as a Woodworker?

secret-happiness-woodworker.JPG

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” — Mahatma Gandhi

This quote by Mahatma Gandhi immediately came to mind when I interviewed Greg Klassen.

When we spoke, Greg told me; 

Most professional woodworkers begin as passionate hobbyists until they decide they want to do it professionally.  The transition from hobby to profession must be handled with care.  What I mean is that it’s easy to go where the money is (or where you think it is).  I’ve seen many woodworkers dream of being furniture makers only to start taking better-paying cabinet jobs.  Seems like an innocent decision and a great way to pay the bills, but then suddenly they’re buying tools that are designed for making plywood cabinets and after a while the idea of switching to making hand-crafted furniture seems especially risky, so they just don’t.  They stick with the easier option, even though their hearts are not into it.  There’s nothing wrong with being a cabinet maker…I just mean to point out that many cabinetmakers initially aspired to make finer things and during that transition into a professional woodworker they listened to the money rather than their hearts.  I have always tried to put my passions before profits.  Do I enjoy what I’m working on?  Am I excited about this design?  If the answer is yes, then I keep at it.  If that answer is no, then I know I need to change something.  I love what I do.  I continue to experiment and grow my designs, always trying new things.  I especially enjoying the initial discovery/design phase, where the idea is born.  And of course I love all of the woodworking, being hands on with beautiful materials.

Fuck. Hearing that hit me square in the chest. I can definitely identify with it. The point is not about whether cabinetmakers initially aspired to build fine furniture. The point is, that the work that many woodworkers do all day every day doesn’t align with the work they want to do. And not just woodworkers either.

Our lives are made up of our days. They are made up of the things we do all day every day. So if what we do all day every day doesn’t align with what we want to do with our life, how can we possibly have a happy life?

I recently posted the below image on instagram with the caption; “The type of woodworker you choose to be is defined by the things you decide to make.” Which was met with the reply; “Or the things your clients order!” Which is fair enough. BUT. You attract clients based on things you decide to make in the first place. If woodworking is how you spend your life, and you allow clients dictate what you make, in essence you are allowing clients to dictate your life. Don’t get me wrong, client orders pay the bills. But surely it is important to make at least a small amount of time to build the things you want to create.

0010 Thibaut Malet.png

I’ve worked alongside loads of woodworkers. Some love what they do. And some piss and moan all day about hating their job. We’ve all met or worked with these people. I’ve been this person for spells. Periods of time where I’m not satisfied with my career.

If you’re not satisfied with what you’re doing in your life, if you have doubts, I believe that’s your inner self, or your soul, or whatever you want to call it, talking to you — and you need to listen. You need to act.

You end up asking yourself questions. How the fuck did these thoughts creep in? Am I unhappy with where I’m at in my woodworking career? Did I settle for cabinet making? Should I be making fine furniture? …Maybe. But not necessarily.

Something’s up, but am I actually unhappy? In my experience, the surest way to recognise this is; if you have an emotional reaction to something that’s way over the top. Then you know something’s going on inside you. It’s akin to the old “kicking the dog” metaphor. The dog did nothing wrong, it’s a dog. You’re just taking your frustrations out on the dog because of what’s going on in your head.

I always have to remind myself that I can do whatever the fuck I want to do. That even when I doubt myself, I need to stop it and believe in myself. You have to believe that you already have everything you need to be happy and successful. It’s inside you. You just need to bring it out.

Most of us have been trained to look for the answers outside us. We’ve become a society obsessed with looking outside for answers. The answers aren’t on Instagram, or YouTube. They aren’t in books or in podcasts. You can’t find the answers by copying the worlds greatest woodworker. The world already has them. We don’t need another them. We need you.

The answers are inside us and are different for everyone.

Ask yourself; What did I do all day? If I continue doing this all day every day what will my life look like?

Simply wanting a better future isn’t enough. You need to look inside yourself for the answers as to what your ideal day, and in turn, your ideal life looks like. Only then can you start to work towards it. Like Greg Klassen, ask yourself; Do I enjoy what I’m working on? Am I excited about this design? If the answer is yes, then keep at it. If that answer is no, then you know you need to change something.

 

P.S. If you liked this article, you may also like to get free and practical tips on woodworking techniques, business growth, productivity, and more in your inbox each week (you’ll also get the “How to Make a Living From Woodworking” PDF guide). Simply SIGN UP HERE to get exclusive access to a wealth of knowledge.

 

This post appeared first on https://www.sawdustetc.com

Have More Fun Woodworking Like Thibaut Malet

Credit: Thibaut Malet

Credit: Thibaut Malet

Do you remember the last time you made something from wood just purely for fun? The type of woodworker you decide to be is defined by the things you choose to make. So while building fine furniture, and framing houses, and making cabinetry is important— it can become just another job. Bringing a sense of playfulness to these type of tasks is not impossible, but it’s a little more challenging.

There’s a lesson for all of us woodworkers to be learned from someone like French designer & woodworker Thibaut Malet. It’s hard not to look at his portfolio of work and smile. He designs and makes objects and toys that bring pure joy and delight.

Credit: Thibaut Malet

Credit: Thibaut Malet

Malet graduated from Montpellier’s Ecole Supérieure des Métiers Artistiques in 2010, and began his career in the field of architecture. However he soon realised that sitting at a desk wasn’t for him. He missed the craft of woodworking. He had been surrounded by woodworking growing up with both his grandfather and father being carpenters. So he returned to his workshop to learn the woodworking craft. Today Thibaut and his brother carry on the family tradition.

Malet says his work is inspired by the small wooden things he made as a child. I can honestly think of no greater inspiration than the child version of yourself. Most of us made ramps for bikes and skateboards, small cars, toy swords, and various other things from wood as kids. Do you remember what that excitement was like, and how much fun you had? That is a life well lived right there.

Credit: Thibaut Malet

Credit: Thibaut Malet

To many people there’s no good reason to make a wooden animals. But when they turn out as well crafted and beautiful as Thibaut’s are, it is well worth the effort. This kind of work brings joy to the maker as well as the end user. Not many people can say their portfolio of work features spinning tops, and wooden animals. If a three-year-old, and a thirty-three-year-old can appreciate your work equally, you know you’re doing something right.

Credit: Thibaut Malet

Credit: Thibaut Malet

Why do we woodwork? Is it to keep our heads down, and work flat out all the while worrying about profit margins? Or should we embrace how much fun woodworking can be every once in a while and make stuff purely for fun? With the pressures and stresses that come with modern day life, the latter can be a challenge. But if we can’t do it every so often, what’s the point?

To find out more;

https://www.thibautmalet.com

https://www.instagram.com/thibautmaletstudio/

 

P.S. If you liked this article, you may also like to get free and practical tips on woodworking techniques, business growth, productivity, and more in your inbox each week (you’ll also get the “How to Make a Living From Woodworking” PDF guide). Simply SIGN UP HERE to get exclusive access to a wealth of knowledge.

This post appeared first on https://www.sawdustetc.com

“I Don’t Think There is a Right or Wrong Way of Doing Things as Long as you Care.”: Reuben Daniel Interview

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

Sometimes you come across the work of another woodworker and all you can do is; purse your lips together in that appreciative way; nod your head, and think to yourself— “Yess! Sweet work man. Respect.” This is pretty much what I did when I first saw Reuben Daniel’s work.

I didn’t realise it before I asked Reuben for the interview, but like myself, he comes from a carpentry background. Seeking to grow, Reuben set his sights on mastering his craft and furthering his understanding of design. He attended Sturt School For Wood where he competed his certificate IV in Furniture Design and Technology under the guidance of some of Australia’s finest designer makers.

Today Reuben turns out some top class work that is to be admired and learned from. I caught up with him recently to learn more about the man, and the work that fills his life.

 

 

Dónal Moloney: Reuben, thanks for taking the time to do this. I’m excited to talk to you, because I think your work is really outstanding. Maybe we can start at the beginning. How did you get into woodworking? Is it something you started straight out of school and had always wanted to do?

Reuben Daniel: After leaving school I had a few different jobs, I took pride in every job I had and prized myself on my work ethic, but it wasn’t until I started working with wood did I find my ‘thing’. I worked my way from builder’s labourer to carpenter’s hand to working as a carpenter… although I must state that I never had a formal apprenticeship. I was lucky enough to work for a man called Matt Fenn a master traditional timber framer who was the guy who taught me about wood, trees and traditional joinery. Matt gave me a copy of “The Village Carpenter” by Walter Rose, which started my fascination with craftsmanship and the people who were the master of their crafts. This fascination drove me to find ways to learn more about crafting out of wood which led to me enrolling at a furniture design and making school where I was taught by some of Australia’s finest furniture makers. I graduated realising that that was the beginning of a my path as a designer maker.

 

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

 

DM: I’m intrigued by your business and how you market it. How does someone who has no website* (that I can find!) bring in work in this modern age!? You have a healthy Instagram following of nearly 5K, and your work speaks for itself when people see your stuff on your feed. But you rarely ever use hashtags! How do you put yourself out there so that people can find you?

RD: My business is young and I am in the process of getting a website* made and creating a client base. I recently completed a small business course and created a business plan which was a necessary eye opener to the realities of running a small business. Learning to market yourself to sell your work to bring in work is something I would prefer not to do but know I have to do it to keep the dream alive. Instagram is great for that, having good pictures is key… half of my photos were taken by a friend who is a photographer which has really helped my work get exposure on Instagram.

I have been lucky enough to have had a good run of commissions and I have struck up a good relationship with a local woodworks gallery/shop to sell some items through but I am realistic, I may have to pick up some construction work here and there to pay the bills which I am happy to do if it enables me to chase the dream of becoming a master craftsman designing and making beautiful things.

 *Reuben’s new site is now live at; https://www.reubendaniel.work 

 

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

 

DM: I’d like to remind you of something you said recently; “Details. It’s easy to obsess over them… maybe no one else will ever notice them in the end, but I like to think the little details combined can really elevate a design. Perhaps it’s a sign that the designer/maker cares.” It’s easy to see that you care deeply about your work. Your Dansk Chair for example displays the qualities of someone who cares. Do you find it difficult to have patience for the small details while trying to balance the fact that you are a small business owner and your work needs to be made quickly and efficiently in order to make a living?

RD: I am not an inherently patient person but like most people when I care about something I make time for it and this is the approach I take towards my work because I find it fulfilling. Obviously there will always be limitations like money and time… but I don’t think there is a right or wrong way of doing things as long as you care.

 

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

 

DM: Tell me a little about your model making exploits. It looks like great fun! How does this help you with your process of designing furniture? Is it something you have always had as part of your process?

RD: This is something I learnt in my formal training at Sturt School for Wood. The tutors there where fantastic and taught us model making as part of the design process, I guess it’s the old school version of CAD or SketchUp neither of which I know how to use.

I find it an important process and I often make a lot of changes to the design after I have made the model, it also lets you do a run through of the construction process and allows you to get a feeling about the visual balance and proportions of the piece. I don’t always make models though, sometimes a scale drawing is enough. 

In essence it is a form of play and through play comes creative opportunities.

 

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

 

DM: What does a typical day look like for you at the moment?

RD: I work out of a shared workshop which is a bit of a creative hub, the workshop is owned by sculptor and furniture maker Leon Sudubin who is a generous man and an inspiring mentor. Then there is captain Elise Cameron-Smith miniature boat builder, sculptor and furniture maker and Paul Chilton who is a designer maker of high-end fine furniture.

So it is a creative space where we all bounce ideas off each other. I generally work 8 or 9 hour days more or less if I have a deadline or the surf is good. I get excited during the making process and often get swept up the momentum, the days pass by quickly.. it’s quite the opposite during the design process though, I drive myself a bit mad until I get it, the design and my cutting list, and then  I’m off making again!

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

DM: How do you define success? And do you consider yourself successful?

RD: Doing something that you feel is meaningful and doing it as best you can. That’s success to me. Do I consider myself successful? At some things but most things are a work  in progress and there are always things to improve!

 

 

DM: What advice would you give a young Reuben Daniel embarking on his woodworking career?

RD: Be authentic, don’t take yourself to seriously and be ready for opportunities!

 

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

Credit: Reuben Daniel / Hannah Roche

 

QUICKFIRE:

DM: Who is your favourite woodworker/designer/maker from past or present?

RD: I don’t have just one! Borge Mogensen, George Nakashima, Antoni Gaudi come to mind right now. 

 

DM: What are you not very good at?

RD: Administration, it’s gross and we shouldn’t have to do it.

 

DM: What is the one part of your job that you enjoy most?

RD: Any time I get to work with my hand tools is enjoyable.

 

DM: What tool purchase turned out to be your best investment?

RD: Festool sander or my Lie Nielsen no.5

 

DM: What’s your favourite tune to blast out in the workshop?

RD: You’re Dead by Norma Tanega… I don’t know any of her other music but this song is on repeat at the moment!

 

 

THANKS

I’d like to thank Reuben for his thoughtful and insightful answers. Chasing his dream of becoming a master craftsman, while designing & building beautiful things for a living, is a noble and lofty goal. I love how he is focused on this goal but yet realistic enough to realise that there may be times when he needs to do some construction work “to pay the bills”.

There are lessons for all woodworkers here in the realities of running a small business,  being authentic, and of course not taking yourself too seriously. I know I’ve taken a lot from hearing his thoughts.

 

To find out more;

https://www.reubendaniel.work 

https://www.instagram.com/reuben__daniel/

 

P.S. If you liked this article, you may also like to get free and practical tips on woodworking techniques, business growth, productivity, and more in your inbox each week (you’ll also get the “How to Make a Living From Woodworking” PDF guide). Simply SIGN UP HERE to get exclusive access to a wealth of knowledge.

This post appeared first on https://www.sawdustetc.com

“Things Always Seem to Fall Into Place”: Larry Reaves Interview

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

I remember my first day on a building site as an apprentice carpenter. I spent the morning stacking timber onto a makeshift bench for my boss. He then cut these into uprights for stud partitions in a house. Each offcut was no more than four inches in length. But they were all headed for landfill. I remember feeling a pang of guilt that I was contributing to this waste. I’d never thought about this when I signed up to be an apprentice. A lot of woodworkers have this awareness that wood is to be cherished. And anything that can use up waste and prevent more landfill is to be encouraged.

I think this may be one of the reasons that I’m drawn to skatewood. This process creates objects that are truly beautiful, from something that would otherwise go to waste. One of my favourite makers that works with this material is Larry Reaves.

Larry is a father, skateboarder, and woodworker based in Columbia, S.C. He always seems to get the colour and pattern just right, and turns out some amazing work. I caught up with him recently to find out a little more about his story, and to get some insight into his woodworking.

 

 

Dónal Moloney: Larry, thank you kindly for your time in answering these questions. Your work really stands out to me. In particular the stuff you do with the recycled skate decks. The patterns you achieve always look so elegant and well designed. What was the first piece you made with recycled decks? Where did the idea spring from? What is it that you like about working with this particular type of material? And what are the challenges of working with it?

Larry Reaves: Man, I appreciate the kind words for sure.  I’m not the first to use skateboards in my work by any means, but I feel I have a certain “style” to it if you will.  I think the first thing I made out of old boards was a tap stand for homebrew dispensing, this was probably around 2010.  From there I discovered the Japanese artist Haroshi, who makes the most amazing sculptures from old boards.  Another huge influence at this time was George at Iris Skateboards. George makes skateboards from recycled skateboards, pure genius. So I guess around 2011 I started gathering boards from the local skateshops, then I just started tinkering with layouts and different glueups. 

What I like about working with “skatewood” would be a few different things for sure. I’m saving stacks of useable material from going to a landfill each time I gather old boards. I know that it really stands out as something different in the woodworking world, which to me makes me smile when other woodworkers are stumped by the bright colours in my work. The material can be difficult to work with, you’re basically dealing with laminated hard maple that could have cracks and other hidden flaws.  So milling and turning can be tricky at times.

 

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

 

DM: I love how you show your work, particularly on Instagram which is where I came across you first. Lots of us woodworkers can be guilty of jamming in loads of hashtags and trying to “promote” more than to simply “share”. But with you, it seems like you have a nice, laid-back approach. The style of your posts is a short comment, one or two hashtags, and then you often just let the work speak for itself. When you started Reaves Woodworks, was this a conscious philosophy you had? A type of “build it and they will come” approach, where you just put your work out there into the world to share what you do as opposed to going for the “ hard sell”?

LR:  That’s pretty funny you notice how I post! I really like the Instagram platform, I think I switched from a personal to a business account when they first started offering it a few years back.  One thing that annoys me on other accounts, is when a post description takes up more room than the photo.  I was a photographer earlier in life, so my draw to Instagram was that is was photo driven not so much the verbiage. So I guess my posting style is just me being a stickler for a good photo with a brief description.  I’ve met some really great people on there, who have influenced my posting as well as how I do business. Shout out to Andy Vasquez @andyvasquezfurniture and Chris Patton @pattondesign for inspiring and being great friends!

 

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

 

DM: It’s great to see the pictures you post of your kids out in the shop with you, picking up the tools and learning to develop their hand skills. Is this something you actively try to encourage, or have they just picked it up and developed an interest from watching you?  What would you like the legacy of Reaves Woodworks to be? What would you like your kids to remember about your woodworking career?

LR: Yeah kids are awesome.  My wife and I really try to instil good values and self esteem in our children.  Having them in the shop is cool, no pressure really, they mostly like to make things from my cutoffs.  Occasionally they’ll ask what tool does what and I’ll let them have a go at it.  So I think they see Dad or Mom working in the shop and want to “help” when they can.  It would be super cool to see my children be craftspeople later in life, but that’s really up to them.  Hopefully they’ll have fond memories of playing in sawdust! 

 

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

 

DM: What does a typical day look like for you running Reaves Woodworks?

LR: It can be all over the place at times. Getting kids out the house is first and foremost! Some days might be doing design work/quotes for jobs on the computer. Others would be straight into the shop to crank out orders, or work on what ever was left off the following day.  Usually a post office run! 

 

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

Credit: Reaves Woodworks

 

DM: How do you define success in life and in work? Do you consider yourself successful?

LR: I suppose success to me is a happy and healthy family, in that aspect I am successful.  Always wanting the business to grow for sure, I always enjoy the bigger jobs!

 

 

DM: What advice would you give a young Larry Reaves embarking on a woodworking career?

LR:  Oh man ha! Maybe just don’t stress about money and such, things always seem to fall in place.

 

 

QUICKFIRE:

DM: What was the best tool you bought for under $100?  

LR: Harbor Freight 1” belt sander

 

DM: What are you not very good at?  

LR: Drawing

 

DM: It’s 9pm on a weeknight, what are you doing? 

LR: Couch with the wife, glass of wine.

 

DM: What is something you haven’t done yet that you would like to do? 

LR: Segmented bowls with skatewood

 

DM: What’s your favourite tune to blast out in the workshop?

LR: Run the Jewels – DDFH

 

THANKS

Huge thanks to Larry for taking the time to share a little more about his work with me. I love his style of woodworking and his philosophy surrounding the use of his materials. It’s a very different type of woodworking to the normal work that many woodworkers do. But it is beautiful and contemporary. Working with certain materials such as skatewood has helped Larry to express his creativity and personality. And this is something that many woodworkers aspire to.

To find out more;

http://reaveswoodworks.com

https://www.instagram.com/reaveswoodworks/

 

P.S. If you liked this article, you may also like to get free and practical tips on woodworking techniques, business growth, productivity, and more in your inbox each week (you’ll also get the “How to Make a Living From Woodworking” PDF guide). Simply SIGN UP HERE to get exclusive access to a wealth of knowledge.

This post appeared first on https://www.sawdustetc.com

This website nor its owners are an actual service provider, this website is a referral service. When you place a phone call from this website, it will route you to a licensed, professional service provider that serves your area. For more information refer to our terms of service.

© WoodFloorRefinishing.info

Call Now Button(877) 959-3534