I thought I should write a bit about how I go about building the things I make. We are in the midst of a second Arts and Crafts movement (at least that’s how I see it), where the factory made is losing favor to the handmade or the craft made. People are no longer content to have throw away pieces of furniture. They want something that will last. Like that table or dresser in grandma’s house that is 100+ years old and still rock solid. They want something unique; something that won’t be found at the local big box store. That’s where people like me come in. People who make. We are the ones with the shops, the space to build that piece of furniture that one day you will hand down to your kids or grandkids. We’re building the next generation of heirloom pieces.
Onward to the how if it:
The first step in my process is to meet with my client(s) and discuss what they are thinking of for their project. We discuss the size of the piece, materials, and price. Then I get to work designing the piece. I typically do 2 or 3 slightly different designs before one is settled upon. Why do I do this? Simply to be sure that my clients are getting exactly what they are paying for. I strive to exceed expectations.
Once a design is finalized I require a 20% deposit. When the deposit has been received, I start shopping for materials. Depending on the project and the design where I shop will vary greatly. I’ve been known to frequent various local saw mills, salvage yards, and even a junk yard or two. For wood selection, I only use three “types” of wood: FSC certified, locally sawn, and/or reclaimed native hardwoods or softwoods. FSC certification means that the Forest Stewardship Council has certified that the wood has been harvested in a sustainable manner. I often purchase locally sawn wood, one because it helps out local businesses; and two because I know many of the sawyers and how they harvest wood. Reclaimed materials are just that: materials that have been used previously. At the moment, I have several hundred square feet of hard maple that was reclaimed from a mill nearby. Using these types of materials keeps them out of landfills and preserves a bit of history. Why only deal with native hardwoods? With exotic wood, you are never quite sure how the material was harvested. Was it done sustainably? Is the wood being replanted like many forests here in the United States and/or Canada are?
As work on the project progresses, my clients are updated with pictures and messages with how the project is proceeding. Once the materials are selected and the first cuts are made is when I start sending pictures. For example: If I were building a coffee table, I would start sending pictures once the materials have been cut and joined to make the table top. Then additional pictures would follow of the legs and aprons or stretchers. Then a final assembly picture would be sent. Then as finish is applied more pictures are sent.
A full size table will typically take me 4-6 weeks from start to finish. A coffee table takes 1-4 weeks. A rolling pantry may be completed in 1-2 weeks. Other custom work may take longer depending on the size, design, etc.