Friday, December 14, 2012

Merry Christmas To All! 14/12/12

Finished Student Pieces

As 50 week student Luke Olney is now coming to the end of his course I thought we'd show off some the work he has produced during his time with us. For his first project he made a jewellery box in bog oak (5,000 year old wood preserved in a bog) with a sycamore interior. It looks deceptively simple and was actually quite a complicated piece to make due to the curved front and tapered sides.

For his third piece he wanted to try laminating and so came up with this elegant design for a guitar stand in sycamore, brass and leather.

Chris has also now finished his jewellery box in wenge, aluminium and suede. He is now working on a desk and I will be posting pictures soon.

New Shelves

Now, I know new shelves doesn't sound like the most exciting news but we like new things here at 'robinson house studio', and we think our new shelves look amazing! Marc bought some acrylic already cut to width. polished the edges and I installed them onto the glass wall in our office. As you can see, Marc has already filled them up with samples, shells and anything that may inspire us.

This will be the last blog till we are back in the the new year so we wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. Don't drink too much and I hope Santa brings you some nice new tools!


Friday, December 7, 2012

New Furniture Making Courses For 2013 - 07/12/12

New Courses For 2013

We have a range of new courses for next year why not take the plunge and experience the world of furniture making. Dates will be on the website soon.

Wood Machining - 2 day course NEW
Spindle Moulding - Course 2 day
Laminating - 2 day
Furniture Making Introduction - 2 days or 5 days
Computer Aided Design - 5 days
Drawing and Water Colour - 2 days
Dovetails - 2 days NEW
Finishing - 2 days NEW

We have been booking well into 2013 for sometime and only have limited space left. We have one space available for 50 week course starting April 2013 and spaces available for October 2013. Only two spaces are available for 12 week course starting in July 2013.

New Taster Week Course - Furniture Making Introduction

 Why not book into our one week taster course, this is a great step into the world of contemporary fine furniture. Are you thinking this is something you would like to pursue? Fancy a change in your life? Want to train in one of the UK's most progressive, innovative studios? Well this is your opportunity, we have flexible dates throughout 2013. Cover basics or cover some advance subject you can decide and we can plan something around your requirements. Cost is £600 and if you decided to do a longer course after your week then we will refund the week's course fees against your longer course.


  Student Work

50 week student Luke Olney chose to make a guitar stand for one of his projects and has spent the last couple of days sewing leather around the brass rods on which the guitar will sit. He is gluing the rods into the stand as I type this so we will have pictures of the finished piece next week.

Recent Commission

For the past few weeks Chris has been working on a commission we took on to make some desk sets. The sets are for a client who has just bought an extremely expensive apartment in London and will match the desks that were made by another company. We made pen pots, notepad holders, document trays and blotter wheels as you can see in the picture. All the items have now gone off to be sprayed with lacquer before we fit leather bases.

That's all for this week, have a good weekend!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Robb Report Singapore 30/11/2012

Robb Report Singapore

About a month ago we mentioned that Nautilus II was set to appear in the Robb Report Singapore, a magazine aimed at the 'super-rich'. They gave Marc a double page spread with a short bio briefly explaining the idea and inspiration behind the coffee table.

 Art Class

Making furniture is not always entirely about woodworking skills, there are many other skills that need to be acquired along the way. In addition to CAD courses, design history lessons and business lectures, Marc provides the students with a two day art course with Ruth Garrett, a local architectural watercolour artist. Ruth teaches the students key techniques for sketching, drawing and painting with watercolours, all of which are important skills to have when presenting drawings and ideas to a potential client. These classes are available to non-students, details can be found on the website

Student Work

Our students have been learning how to bleach timber this week using A and B bleach, caustic soda, lemon juice and cream of tartar. After experimenting with different methods of application and varied drying times everyone concluded that A and B bleach is undeniably the best!

50 week student Thibaut is making good progress and has just finished his through-wedged mortise and tenons.

Kris has started making two Fender Telecaster replicas as a side project while he is making his coffee table.

Art Nouveau Chair

With the students busy with the art class, Marc took the opportunity to continue with the Hector Guimard chair. Some components are now glued up and Marc has begun shaping and carving the details on the front legs using rasps, carving chisels and abrasive paper.

Sorry it's been so long since the last blog, we've been extremely busy! More next week,


Monday, November 5, 2012

Timber Yard Visit 02/11/2012

Timber Yard Trip

When new students are about a month or so into their course Marc takes them on a day out to a few timber yards. The first stop of the day is usually at English Woodland Timber where they have a vast collection of European and North American hardwoods. English Woodland Timber is generally where we go for most of our timber. Apart from being one of the closest timber yards to us, they have huge amounts of the timbers most commonly used in furniture such as oak, walnut, cherry, maple etc all in a large variety of sizes and they often have whole trees which allows us to select sequential boards. They also allow us to enter the kilns and explain to the students the process of kiln drying timber. The next timber yard we stop at before lunch is 
WL Wests and Sons, which is not dissimilar to English Woodlands in the wood they sell but they do have a nice little shop where you can pick up interesting books, tools or interesting pieces of wood.

After a spot of lunch, we head up to Tonbridge to visit Timberline, a place that specialises in exotic hardwoods. All kinds of rosewood and ebony are available as well as wenge, purpleheart, rippled sycamore, mahogany and many more that I don't even know how to spell. It is here that students usually end up spending more than they intended as it's so easy to get drawn in by all the beautiful timbers on offer. The owner, Robert has a vast knowledge of timber and is always very forthcoming when we visit. 

The timber yard trip is always a good day out, despite being somewhat cold, and the students get a chance to learn about the process of selecting the right timber for the job, how timber is stored and dried, and have a chance to familiarise themselves with some timbers that you don't see every day. Pub lunch is also a welcome stop.

New Thicknesser

Our new thicknesser finally arrived on Wednesday! Digital rise and fall, variable speed, maximum width of 530mm, maximum cut depth of 6mm, four knives and a sectional infeed roller for boards of varied sizes. We've only had it two days and we are already feeling the benefits.


Thus week the students have been experimenting with different finishing techniques using Osmo oil, Tung oil, Danish oil, Sam Maloof solution, Kiel's wax and Renaissance wax. By dividing up pieces of wood with masking tape you can apply the various oils and waxes to compare the effects each one has on a variety of timbers.

Darren applying oil to his samples

Art Nouveau Chair Project

Marc's side project is starting to take shape now and is almost ready to glue up. He has roughly cut the shapes of the legs, rails and crest rail which will all be carved by hand once the components are glue together.

Student Projects

Well done to 50 week student Kris who has now finished his two jewellery boxes in Madagascan rosewood and aluminium!

Have a good weekend, more next week.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Richard Williams Seminar 23/10/2012

Richard Williams Visit

One of the benefits available to students on Marc Fish's furniture making courses is the opportunity to learn from other prolific furniture makers. Every few months Marc invites a guest speaker to give a seminar on their particular field of expertise and to talk about their own businesses and experiences of the industry. Over the last year we have had Charlie Whinney, Yannick Chastang, Rod Wales and this week we welcomed Richard Williams to 'robinson house studio'.

In the morning Richard talked to the students about his business and how he got started in the industry. In 1990 he set up his first workshop with what he describes as 'a bench, a few tools and plenty of youthful optimism'. From there his business has grown along with his client base and he now has a team of craftsmen making his contemporary designs. Last year Richard moved into his 'dream workshop', a converted barn in the picturesque countryside of Buckinghamshire, with ample space for machines - the envy of any cabinetmaker, myself included.

Richard's spacious workshop

For a number of years Richard was a visiting lecturer at Bucks College, speaking on business issues relating specifically to the furniture industry. For the second half of the day with us, Richard focused on this subject, offering students advise and information essential to starting up a business or workshop as a maker. The students put him through his paces asking plenty of questions to get as much as they could out of him while the opportunity was there.

To see more pictures check out 50 week student Thibaut's blog:

Latest Marc Fish Piece

The former I am making for Marc's newest piece of furniture is really starting to take shape. Up until now we have only had models and drawings to aid our imaginations but we can now get a true idea of the size and proportions of the real thing. We tried a few different techniques to shape the blue foam - using a hot wire and a sureform proved to be much too slow - and have found that the best way was to cut most of the waste off with a handsaw, then take it down further with the belt sander before smoothing with an orbital sander to achieve the the surface we want. Once I have finished shaping the former, Marc will then begin the process of fiber glassing it.

Student work

New starters Thibaut, Jack and Darren have almost finished their winding sticks and are now applying a few cots of Osmo oil.

Kris and Chris  have almost finished their jewellery boxes and have made maquettes for their next projects. Kris will make a coffee table in imbuia and Chris is making a desk in scorched oak. You can get an idea from the pictures what the final pieces will look like.

Thanks for checking us out, more next week!


Friday, October 19, 2012

New York Exhibition and Nautilus Sale 19/10/2012

New York and Todd Merrill

Mollusque arrived safely in New York last week and will be on display at the The International Fine Arts and Antique Dealers Show alongside other work from Todd Merrill's 'Studio Contemporary'. The exhibition starts today and runs until next Thursday, and attracts some of the most prolific art and antique dealers in the world.

Nautilus II

Nautilus II was sold last week at Christie's Knightsbridge. The auction which included works owned by Andrew Lamberty and James Perkins totaled in excess of £3 million.


Student Projects

Chris is making two boxes in wenge with aluminium chamfer details. At the moment he is installing the hinges using the router table to cut the hinge slots.

 Kris is at a similar stage to Chris with his Madagascan rosewood and aluminium boxes. He has installed the hinges on one and is making a lid for the other out of ziriciote (rosewood).

Kris's ziricote lid

Luke is almost at the stage of gluing his ebony box up, he is currently tweaking the joints and lid to ensure it all fits together perfectly. Apologies for the quality of the photo, next week will include a better one.

The new 50 week students are now onto making their winding sticks which is an exercise to get them working to a high level of accuracy. They make two winding sticks which must be identical in dimensions, working to a tolerance of 0.001 inches.

Jack measuring the width with a vernier gauge - accuracy and attention to detail are essential.

Latest Project

As I mentioned last week, I have started making the former for the latest Marc Fish piece. Once I had all the 2mm MDF templates made I used those to mark out the shapes on the blue foam before cutting 25 layers which make up the former. I am now in the process of gluing the layers together with the 2mm templates in between and hopefully by the end of the day I can start to shape it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Magazine Features and New Students 12/10/2012

Furniture and Cabinetmaking Magazine Appearance 

This month Furniture and Cabinetmaking Magazine featured a roundup of the Cheltenham Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design. We were lucky enough to have Mollusque on the front cover and have a large photo feature inside with the article. For those that don't read F&C Magazine or haven't heard of it, it is the best magazine out there for high-end furniture and woodworking, we would definitely recommend a subscription!


Robb Report Singapore

As part of Marc's never ending quest to gain 'robinson house studio' more exposure, Nautilus II is set to feature in Robb Report around Christmas time. Robb Report is a magazine aimed at the super-rich advertising private jets, luxury cars, fine art, furniture and super yachts - everything your average multimillionaire could wish for.


New Students

This week we welcomed three new students into the workshop, Darren, Jack and Thibaut. As with all new students, they have spent their first week tuning their tools to prepare them for working to a high standard of accuracy.

Darren tuning his block plane

Laminating Course

At the weekend, Marc ran a two day laminating course covering various techniques, glues and materials. Five students attended, most of whom have done short courses with Marc before. We looked at vacuum bagging, using the membrane press, male and female formers, tested the difference between epoxy, Titebond and PVA, compared flexiply to 2mm MDF and much more, a lot to fit into just two days!

Students taking notes on how to mix epoxy resin

Trying out the new membrane press


MDF and Flexiply laminated samples
Latest Project

I have started making the former for Marc's latest project. It will be made up of blue styrofoam sandwiched between 25 2mm MDF templates, and then shaped by hand using rasps and an orbital sander.

25 templates made with 2mm MDF

Blue foam is perfect for making large formers