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Niall The Furniture Maker Q&A

by Nov 21, 2019News

We chatted recently to Niall, who is a furniture maker for Newcastle Tree Services and ‘Origins’, our new bespoke furniture business.

Here’s what Niall had to say…

What’s the difference in your view between good quality craftsmanship and bad?

As many people think, quality craftsmanship comes from how precise the finished product ends up. As indeed this is true in some respects I’ve found good quality craftsmanship comes in the quality of design, structural integrity and end result. Design I find very important, creating something that is very user friendly as well as efficient for constructing. Structural integrity, using traditional techniques such as mortice and tenons and half laps to ensure strength between the woods rather than fixings commonly used in today’s market. Finally, end result, finished to a standard that shall last for many years and compliments the material’s used.

Why do you love working with one wood more than another wood?

Throughout my years of experience I have worked with many different types of woods and materials. Hardwoods are by far my favourite because of the workability, whether you’re machining it or hand carving it with chisels it works with you to get a precise and clean finish necessary. The other beauty of hardwoods is the grain, something you don’t experience much with soft woods like spruce and pine which is typically used for construction. Hardwood’s natural beauty falls different in each section you work with. At Origins I am particularly excited because our tree surgeons are felling different hardwood species all the time for me to work with. Every week I get a surprise!

What do you do to ensure success and excellence, what steps to ensure craftsmanship is at its best?

To ensure success in my work, it’s all about choosing the right wood for the product. Strength of the timber for its purpose but also using it in a way that will make it stand out and show off its natural look. Allowing excellence is allowing time, making sure certain joints and cuts are precise so that you don’t have to start again.

Here’s my step by step ‘guide’ to ensure craftsmanship is at its best:

  • Completed design/drawing
  • Correct timber chosen for processing to fit product
  • Efficient processing to ensure timber is workable
  • Use of correct techniques and joints for professional finish

How long have you been doing this?

Since before I’d even had the chance of finishing school, my father who I learned a lot of my skill set from, had me labouring along side him, mostly making cups of tea and moving materials around. Allowing me to watch and learn specific techniques both old and new opened my eyes to this industry.

Since then I have spent the last 8 years working to a professional standard with many different, experienced craftsman, creating bespoke furniture, building wooden houses and expressing my creativity through timber. My love for woodwork feels like second nature, gravitating towards woodlands and forests as a youth, I’ve always been amazed by the uniqueness of living trees and seeing them turned into bespoke products is a really special experience. After all it is the most natural material we all use.

After working many years within construction I developed a range of skills: carpentry, joinery, masonry, tiling and electrical skills (amongst others). Each build I was involved in exposed me to new ways of working, giving me an insight into creating different spaces set within their designated landscapes. Although this gave me a handy and well rounded skill set, I realised I’d love to focus my energy on being a joiner, working in a neutral space with materials more native to myself, to create specialised items.

Huge thanks to Niall for talking to us.

You can see some of Niall’s work at our Furniture Open Day on Saturday 30th November.

Address: South Haughton Farm, Heddon on the Wall, NE15 0EZ.

More info at the link below 👇