From Refurbisher to Carpenter?
From Refurbisher to Carpenter?

From Refurbisher to Carpenter?

My father’s workshop space was a point of pride for him. It was filled with hand tools, electric tools, wood, wood scraps, nails, screws, oil, paint, clamps, worktops, saws. The list was endless. Nothing went to waste. And everything, yes, everything had a place. He was a natural at all things practical. He repaired, built, rebuilt, painted, repurposed, and fixed anything that needed doing. I inherited this passion for working with my hands and love that my workshop is expanding into such a space.

Sadly, I have never had the chance to build something from scratch and the more I worked on refurbishing furniture, the more I wanted to bridge that gap. I love rescuing old pieces of furniture and giving them a fresh start. It is extremely satisfying, but the deeper I go, the more I want to know and understand wood and how it becomes furniture. Some years ago, I did a couple of beginner-level wood carving workshops with Paulina Kondraskov from Gemeines Holz at a shared workspace in Stuttgart called HobbyHimmel. I had so much fun and still proudly display the pieces I carved. I already know I love how wood feels in my hands, so when I had the chance to build my own piece from scratch, I jumped at the opportunity.

I need to backtrack a little to put this into context. My father was always an advocate for good tools. After working with good tools, I’ve also come to understand the difference between good and exceptional. I work in a small space and battle with dust constantly. Hours of research later, I committed myself to buy a Festool dust extractor. A portable machine that has transformed my work experience. Through this purchase, I become a fan of Festool and excitedly signed up with Kurswerkstatt Freiburg for a woodworking course.

A small group gathered for 2 days of woodworking using Festool tools under the guidance of Kai. This was a crash course into using a wide variety of machinery and hand tools within a space dedicated to woodworking. I was highly excited chatting away in German as if it came naturally to me. After day 2 I had a small footstool and an aching head from German over-flow. Was I happy? Absolutely. I can only praise Kai and his hard work and organiser/business owner, Wolf-Christian Hartwieg for making this work.

Once home, I continued the sanding process, smoothing away any last remnants of the build, finishing this piece with Scandic-Oil for Furniture by Oli Natura. It is water-based and leaves a raw wood effect while protecting it. I love the result. What do you think?

While I’m not about to quit my refurbishing work for carpentry, I am going to look for more opportunities to create. I dream of having a fit-for-purpose workshop filled with space, light and every tool I could want. In the meantime, I am grateful for the chance to do what I do and occasionally play with wood in a totally new way.

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Máire - Furniture Artist