If you want me to breathe new life into a special piece of furniture, I will apply three simple principles...
1. Do as little as possible
The beauty of an old piece of furniture lies in it's story. I will not do anything that risks losing that. If you want a pristine piece of furniture, buy new.
2. Secure the structure
A piece of furniture has a function. I will make sure that it is capable of fulfilling that function securely.
3. Make it look good
I will use wax, stains and pigments to blend in any repairs. I will then revive the overall appearance using traditional finishes, including French polish.
Would you like somewhere to put your glass of wine or cup of coffee, somewhere to rest your feet, something to support you while you meditate, somewhere to display your books or works of art, something to hide the boring essentials, or just something that is beautiful to look at?
Come and talk to me, have a look at some of the glorious native Scottish timber that is available around here. Allow me to help you design something special, individual, and fit for purpose.
Or you may want to consider recycling? There are many pieces of furniture out there that may have outlived their space or usefulness. I have made tables from old church pews or bed ends, clocks from old wooden wine boxes, even a ukulele from a wardrobe. Let your imagination run wild.
Don't rush me... wood does not like to be rushed, it is a natural material which responds to its environment. It likes time to settle into new shapes and sizes. The more patience we show, the longer it will be rewarded. That said, I will always do my utmost to achieve your deadlines for you, provided they are realistic.
As an an enthusiastic but hopeless ukulele player myself, I am aware of a condition known as UAS
(ukulele acquisition syndrome)
I think the principle translates to the owners of most small musical instruments... how many guitarists do you know, who only own one guitar? or mandolin players with only one mandolin? or spoon players with only one spoon? I offer therapy for sufferers of UAS.
There are instruments that look beautiful and there are instruments that sound glorious. I aspire to the latter, but along the way, I want to use fine Scottish timber to make individual, eye-catching instruments.
This has been a relatively short journey, but with a very steep learning curve. All along the way, I have been encouraged and guided by my friend Steve Agnew, luthier and woodworking wizard. Some fine detail and super accurate cutting has been made possible by another friend Keith Gorman with his laser etching skills.
I have limited myself to making concert size ukuleles and only using local Scottish timbers, although I will make an exception for recycled timber from elsewhere (I recently finished a mahogany ukulele, made from parts of an antique Georgian wardrobe).
I have a small stock of handmade ukuleles which are for sale, I can also build an instrument to suit your own individual requirements and taste.
Do you need a board for serving or preparing food or cutting lemons for your G&T?
Do you want to commemorate a birthday, a wedding, an anniversary, a moving on?
What do you have in mind?
a clock? a shelf? a wall plaque? a food board? a key fob? a door wedge? a name plate? an original wooden sculpture?
I will interpret your ideas, using fine Scottish timbers and, with the help of Mr Gorman, have it engraved with the appropriate text and graphics
It may seem odd in the current climate where we hate plastics, but I really enjoy the properties of clear acrylic, both in sheet and rod form. I love the way it deals with light...
A flat sheet comes to life when etched with a favourite poem or lines of a song, framed in beautiful wood, of course! A piece of rod used as a dowel will transmit whatever colour is at its base... those are not blue dots on the eucalyptus jewellery box in the photograph, they are clear acrylic rods with a dob of blue pigment at the bottom of the hole. I use the same technique for fretboard markers on my ukuleles.
This is a piece of personal history. It is the very first item of furniture I designed specifically for a customer. Built with American white oak in the days before I restricted myself to Scottish timber, the design was inspired by the oak-lined Arts and Crafts era church for which it was made. The table was handmade by my small team at Gateside Mills in 2003, mainly by our young apprentice, Gavin (well, he was young then).
This is a splendid apothecary cabinet which now resides at Lindores Abbey Distillery, where it has been returned to its original function. It lives in the room where wild products of the local area are converted into flavour combinations to add to the distillery's own aqua vitae.
It came in looking a little dull and care-worn. I gave it some TLC and revived its finish with traditional French polish.
Here is ukulele number 9. Concert size with 18 frets, the body and neck are made from ash and the top from sycamore, but not from the beauty in the background! Fretboard and bridge are in laburnum and the sycamore leaf inlay is wild cherry.
This sideboard was in a rented property in Fife. There is a bit of a surface scratch which the tenant decided to hide with a dark varnish. This is seen here on my bench with half of the varnish cleaned off, revealing the original mahogany flame veneer. Which would you rather have? dull gunky varnish? or rich flame mahogany with a bit of a scratch in it?
In collaboration with Keith, this lovely, tiny cabinet had its finish revived and broken glass replaced with acrylic sheet. The door was laser-etched with a favourite Dylan quote.