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

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Robinson House Studio Blog 7/10/2012

New Thicknesser

Up until now we have been using a Rojek planer thicknesser combo which of course is not ideal when you have one person wanting to plane and another wanting to thickness. The new thicknesser will have a digital reader and electronic rise and fall, which we are all very much looking forward to!

Student Projects

50 week students Luke, Chris and Kris are making good progress on their jewellery box projects. Luke is making his in ebony, Chris is using wenge and Kris is making two boxes, one in Madagascan rosewood and one in aluminium.

Chris oiling his wenge box sides

Luke hand planing his ebony box side

For his box lids, Kris decided to use aluminium honeycombe. Sandwiched between two pieces of 1.5mm skin-ply, it gives an incredibly lightweight, stable and flat component. It is usually used on yachts due to its light weight but can be useful in standard furniture, especially for something like a large dining table which would be too heavy in solid wood.


 Marc's Latest Piece

Chris has made a scale model for the latest project by using fiberglass and epoxy over the polystyrene former he made a couple of weeks ago.


It is really starting to take shape now and soon I will begin work on the former for the real piece.


Art Nouveau Chair Project

As a side project, Marc has decided to make a replica of a Hector Guimard chair. Hector Guimard was a French architect and one of the pioneers of the Art Nouveau movement. Guimard designed the entrances and lettering for the Metro stations in Paris, which is some of the most representative work of the Art Nouveau style.


 We are using American black walnut to make the chair. Two sequential boards were handpicked to ensure top quality and matching grain.


 Chris cut the laminates on the bandsaw, which were all speed sanded to eliminate glue lines.


Each leg was pressed in our new membrane press.