Thursday, October 08, 2009


Originally uploaded by Phil_Parker
Last night was my first proper return to college for my furniture making class. This term I've advanced beyond the beginners projects (even if my skill level hasn't) and I've chosen to make something from a plan.

The "something" is a tool chest. It's something I've always wanted to build and when I was scratching around for plans for a suitable project, one of the woodworking magazines in WH Smith had one for a "simple" chests. That's fate I decided and so this is my project.

When you advance from newbie to apprentice furniture maker you need to source your own wood. This doesn't mean a trip the local DIY shed for some wobbly pine and a sheet of MDF, it requires a visit to a proper wood yard. The sort of place professionals go to.

Taking advice from other students, Whitmores Timber seemed popular. A quick phone call ascertained that I could turn up and root around in the offcuts shed without an appointment. With a tiny project like the one I planned, I hoped this would be enough.

On arrival the first thing I spy is some oak. As you see from the photo, quite a lot of oak. Those "sticks" are 30 feet long and each probably weighs more than the car, so not idea for my purposes !

Look at the aerial view on Google maps, and you get the idea of the sort of place were had visited.

The offcuts shed was a tiny portacabin full of bits of wood. Half an hour with the cutting list and plenty of digging saw me emerge with some dead tree bits. Back in the office we waited for the man to come and price things up in fantastic little room lined with finished 50 strips of timber each of which had a sticker on showing what it was. I can see that for future projects I'll be a bit pickier and try for some of the unusual types which look lovely.

Anyway, it seems I picked some oak for the main carcase, maple for the drawers and a unidentified dark wood for the drawer fronts. Price £28 including VAT, far less than expected.

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