McLAUGHLIN FURNITURE

BESPOKE FURNITURE – DESIGNED FOR YOU

The design stage is crucial in creating a unique piece of bespoke furniture that compliments and enhances your home. For this reason, Dan spends a lot of time with you during the initial consultation; discussing your ideas, requirements, tastes and taking detailed measurements. Dan will then incorporate everything discussed during the consultation into an initial design.

Bespoke furniture design sketch or drawing produced by furniture maker Dan before being handmade at his workshop in Cornwall

After you have examined the initial design, you will be given the opportunity to suggest any changes or improvements. Dan will then produce the final design and give you detailed design drawings for your approval.

Each piece of furniture Dan produces is built from solid wood, so it’s important that the design works in harmony with woods natural properties. This is achieved using traditional joinery construction techniques, which allow for woods natural movement. However the overall appearance of your furniture can be either traditional or more contemporary.

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF FURNITURE MAKING

Using pegged mortice & tenon joints this bespoke handmade solid oak chest or blanket box was designed and build with traditional frame & panel construction.

In medieval Europe the chest was probably the most important piece of furniture you could own. You could store and transport your possessions in it, sit on it or use it as a table. Many other types of furniture we know today evolved directly from the simple chest. Very early examples were simply hollowed out lumps of wood, later they were constructed by carpenters from boards of wood, nailed or pegged together. However, these boards had a tendency to split and weaken as they dried out and shrank, consequently they were frequently strengthened with iron banding, making them very heavy.

The new craft of joinery emerged around the 15th century. Joiners solved the problems of movement in timber by framing much thinner boards (now called panels). The frames were secured at the corners using mortice & tenon joints and the panels were located in a groove in this strong frame, which allowed them to shrink and expand freely without splitting.

Furniture constructed with these joinery techniques worked in harmony with the properties of wood and was therefore strong and durable. Primarily constructed in Oak, this type of furniture reached its peak during the Tudor, Elizabethan and Jacobean periods (early-16th to mid-17th centuries), becoming ever more sophisticated and richly carved. However, it still retained an honesty in its construction that has appealed to people ever since (including Dan!).

The age of the cabinet maker (beginning towards the end of the 17th century) saw a move away from this type of solid furniture. With increasing wealth pouring in from overseas colonies, people wanted to show off and furniture became more elaborate and less robust, incorporating new imported materials (often applied as a thin veneer). While traditional joinery skills and techniques were largely abandoned in furniture made for high society, in more rural areas they were maintained in the production of ‘Country Furniture’. In the late 19th the honest values of traditional joinery once again became fashionable in furniture construction during the Arts & Crafts Movement, which saw a rejection of ‘style over substance’.