Meanderings

Rustic Furniture

The entire process of building rustic furniture is fun. Especially when you live out on the Pacific North West.

The journey begins with a leisurely walk on a lonely beach in search of interesting pieces of driftwood. If I find any suitable flotsum, I drag it home and leave it in a sheltered spot to dry out. I am careful not to put it anywhere out of sight as if I do this, I inevitably forget about it and nothing ever gets built except a fire. That's just me though.

The next stage is some sort of sudden urge to build. It's usually sparked very spontaneously by an accidental glance at the angle of a branch in a corner or discovering that I have accumulated a bunch of similar shapes. Before I know it, I'm hammering and drilling and kicking up a dust storm.

Not many tools are required for basic rustic building. A hammer, a drill, a saw and a bunch of nails.

There is a rhythm to the work. Time just disappears. Saw, drill, nail. Saw drill nail. The Beauty of it all is that the pieces evolve and each piece is unique. No one can ever say you're doing it wrong. Like art, it is never wrong.

The first piece I ever built was in 1996. I built it around November. It was a rickety little spidery table built from grape vines I'd collected whilst picking grapes in Volnay France. By December it was in the stove. But I'd been bitten by the rustic bug.

The virus lay dormant for a few years till I moved out to the pacific coast. All that virginal driftwood strewn on empty beaches called to me to nail it together. Soon my yard was overflowing with experimental wobbly chairs and tables.

Most ended up as firewood but I persevered and slowly I made progress. The pieces were becoming sturdier, less imbalanced, more shapely and weren't marched so directly to the fire wood pile. People stopped asking me why I nailed my firewood together before burning it.

I have no formal training with carpentry tools. When it comes to hammering, it was literally all hit or miss. I keep my tool kit to a minimum. I don't even use a measuring tape. I measure everything by eye which can lead to hap hazard results. But for me, building rustic furniture is all about the process: being outdoors on a pleasant afternoon just bashing away and seeing what happens. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I even sell a piece. As often as not, I just sit on an old chair on the cabin deck and listen to the birds in the twilight.