Recently, I’ve been designing some pieces of furniture for my first collection. I love designing and making furniture to commission, and I get a huge amount of satisfaction when I can work to a brief and help people to make the most of a space. However, designing for it’s own sake means no compromises, and a totally undiluted concept.
One of the ideas which I’ve used in a number of my previous projects is a continuous band of timber that wraps around the form of the piece, creating cabinets, nooks and corners. I really like this concept and it’s the seed for the collection. It also inspired the name : The Fold.
The first piece I designed for the collection was the desk (sketch below). I plan to make it from Iroko, which is a really beautiful brown/orange hardwood. However, before embarking on what will a big investment in terms of materials and time, I wanted to test some of the construction techniques I planned to use, and also check how some of the details would look in the flesh.
For this reason, I decided to design and make a coffee table for the collection first. It allowed me to establish some rules for the collection. First was that the angled section on the hollow legs on every piece would be set at 10 degrees. Second was that the insides of the hollow legs would be painted red. I love red, it’s always been my favourite, so this decision didn’t take long. Third was that the corner joints would be mitered, so as to highlight the folded nature of the band of timber.
This last decision proved to be the most difficult in terms of construction. It’s notoriously tricky to clamp up mitered corners because if the pressure is too great, it pulls the joint out of alignment. Also, if the timber is not machined very accurately, the joint ends up not being the correct angle and, if you try to correct this, you can get a gap on the outer edge of the joint which looks really bad.
The design for the coffee table is a lot more simple than the desk, and consists of a single folded band of oak which wraps around to create the hollow leg at one end and a magazine rack at the other.
A couple of things became clear on completing this prototype. The first was that the hollow red leg section is too small. I’d like it to be able to be used for storing papers or post etc, but it would just end up as a dust trap. I think adding a horizontal section like there is in the magazine rack would help. It would also mean more red was visible, which is always good. The second thing it showed me was that I need to make some MDF formers for the piece to be clamped to during glue-up. This would help to keep the angles of the corners correctly aligned, and would also help in making the mitered joints really tight.
I am pleased with how this first piece went, though. I especially like the magazine rack section. The angles work very nicely, and I like the feathered end of the rack. In all, it’s quite an elegant piece, which isn’t something I’d often say about my designs. Here’s a couple more photos of the finished prototype:
I’ll be making more pieces from the collection in the next few months, so check back to see more photos. If you would like to see more of the handmade furniture and bespoke interiors I make at HM HandMade, check out the website here www.hmhandmade.co.uk, or contact Hugh on 07789 768 302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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