Timber Beginnings

Updated: May 13, 2021

Well we all got to start somewhere!

I would like to share my experiences with timber as a woodworker #woodworker and furniture maker. During my apprenticeship in Ireland and first couple of years as a carpenter joiner in London where the timber came from was not given much thought just as long as there was enough to do the job each and every day.

Mid eighties I moved to Wales from London, I had made a few pieces in the garage in London with hand tools #handtools from pine, can't remember where I had sourced it from. In Wales, Pembrokeshire to be more precise Chris and I started setting up a workshop. Well, again nobody thought of where the timber was going to come from.

After many enquiries and phone calls to suppliers I learned a lot about buying timber commercially. I secured a truck load of Baltic Pine #BalticPine from the docks in Cardiff on the condition that I off loaded it at my premises. No forklift or tractor, everyone just muscled in and we placated the truck driver with coffee and sandwiches.

I now had a massive stock of 5” x 1 ¼” pine. On closer inspection it was very tight grained which meant it was slow grown and should be stable. It was great for making frames and joinery #joinery and we had to glue up for carcass work and panels.

Well I was in my element, loads of timber and loads of ideas. It was just as well that it was not that wide as I did not have a thickensser, used to surface one side and guage it through the saw.

Decided we needed some wider boards and via an importer in Oxford bought some boards of Yellow Pine #oregonpine from United States. This also came in a truck load as the supplier was not willing to deliver a small amount over that distance.

These boards were 12” wide and 1” thick and coincide with us getting a Robinson 24” wide Thicknesser #Thicknesser. The growth rings where very wide on this timber so it did not match in with the Baltic pine but it did make a 6” x 3” very easy, and in a short time this became the mainstay of our business.

A solid timber handmade cabinet made from Brazilian Mahogany hand finished in mahogany stain, shellac and wax.
Brazilian Mahogany at its Best

As I said we all have to start somewhere and over the course of my woodworking career I have used many woods #woods including English Oak, Elm, Brazilian Mahogany, Plane, Beech, Ash, Maple, Chestnut and some more that will spring to mind as I write and that doesn't include all the Australian timbers in later years.

So next time I will give you some insight as to how I started using English woods. If you have any comments or questions please feel free.