Furniture

One of my hobbies is designing and making furniture. I always start by designing and modeling the furniture on a Mac computer. Then I print out a set of full sized cutting templates from the computer drawings and cut the pieces out of MDF (medium density fibre-board) using a hand-held electric jigsaw.

Most of the pieces on this page were made on a couple of sawhorses in the back yard of our old house - which meant packing everything away at the end of each day or whenever it rained! Fortunately, our new house has a garage that I am able to use as a workshop.

These are some of the more unusual pieces I have made.

Below: This playroom unit is my most ambitious project to date.  Our new house had a dining room that we had little use for, since we eat in the kitchen, so we decided to convert it into a playroom instead.

I was always stopping the kids climbing on the furniture, so I decided to build some furniture that they were meant to climb on. The unit comprises of two large cupboards (set into the recesses on either side of the fireplace) with a bookcase in between. Both cupboards have dens on top of them. The right hand den is accessed via an external ladder, while the left hand den is accessed via a ladder at the back of the cupboard, which leads to a trapdoor in the den floor. The curvy asymmetrical shapes of the red panels was inspired by the illustrations of Dr Seuss.

Move you pointer from side to side over the arrow bars to see Laura and Max demonstrate the cupboards!
(You may have to wait a moment, while hidden images are loaded, before the arrow bars start to work)

Above: The real books on this Impossible Bookshelf are interspersed with dummy books with punning
author names (e.g. Art is Rubbish by Phyllis Stein). The dummy books keep the real books fanned out
evenly and stop them falling off the ends of the shelf. You can find out more about this shelf and read all
punning book titles in this blog post.

Left: I made this storage unit to store all the cycling clobber that was cluttering up our rather cramped hallway.

As well as pigeon holes to store the smaller items, I wanted some big hooks to hang the helmets on. I was going to make these until I realised I had a spare pair of drop handlebars that were perfect for the job. The handlebars came with my current bike, but I'd replaced them with the more comfortable handlebars from my previous bike, which I'd had to throw away after a section of the frame had snapped in two while cycling across a busy roundabout!

cycl cupboard

Right: This coffee table uses a couple of engineering tricks to create a rigid but minimal structure.

The angled MDF forks on either end are sprung slightly so that the glass tabletop is held in tension, which helps keep the whole structure rigid. Glass works well in tension, which is why it can be used for curtain walling.

The timber dowels forming the magazine shelf at the bottom are arranged in a gentle curve, which also aids stability.

Above: These are a couple of bedside tables.
Each table has its own lamp, the switch for which is built into the back-board.

Right and Below: This piece is not quite as curvy as the photo suggests. You can get a better idea of its shape from the computer drawing below. It's actually six separate pieces of furniture - two cupboards, three bookcases and one portfolio rack - that fit together to form a single storage unit. You can access the two large cupboards by pulling open the two curved bookshelf-doors as shown below.

There was a very practical reason for its 'grand piano' shape. The unit sat in the office of my old house, which was very small. The unit needed to be narrow at one end, so I would have enough space to sit behind my drawing board, and wide at the other, so I could have a decent bookcase beside my desk.

Left: This is a cupboard I made to keep my children's toys in.

Right: This cupboard was home to our CDs, cassettes and videos.

Left: This coffee table is the first piece of furniture I made.

Neither of these are really furniture, but I thought I'd put them in anyway.

Above Left: I based this rug design on a detail from "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, one of my favourite picture books. I converted the design into a rug pattern on the Mac, but my wife did all the hard work putting in the threads.

Above Right: The picture in the middle of this clock is an illustration of "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear and is taken from a calendar by another favourite illustrator, Rodney Mathews. The clock (which is 60cm wide) was designed around the illustration. The short ends of both hands are carved to look like the owl and the pussycat in the illustration.


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