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Wood and furniture craft

Makers who work with wood love their chosen material with a real passion. They delight in the unexpected way it behaves and the fact that, just like snowflakes, no two pieces of wood are ever the same.

Wood working is an ancient craft. It has been, and continues to be, used in construction, in design, and in the arts. Buildings, boats, furniture, decorations, utensils, musical instruments: the list of products is long, and as diverse as the woods used.

The different properties of each type of wood, and there are an estimated 100,000 tree species, mean that every crafted wood item is unique. Craft making with wood requires different methods of working and produces an incredible variety of results.

Hardwoods (such as birch, elm, oak and maple) and softwoods (cedar, pine, spruce) have different strengths and densities, producing distinct results. The properties of each wood and tree, from the grain and figure of the wood, to tree burrs, colours within, and wood fibres, mean that every crafted wood item is unique.

The maker must select whether to use a hardwood or a softwood. They must decide whether to work with the wood grain or against it, to incorporate natural features such as burrs and knots or to manipulate the wood to produce a more refined finish. They then carve, cleave, peg, plane, polish, wax, oil, burn, etch, pierce, weather, varnish, inlay, or turn the wood on a lathe.

Craft Scotland represents some 300 makers working with wood, from boat builders, musical instrument makers, and furniture makers to décor designers and jewelers.

Wood has traditionally been used for constructing things and while that is still true today, many of our makers now combine wood with other materials such as clay, resin, Perspex, bone, and metal to create body adornments and purely decorative objects.

Some choose to work with green, unseasoned wood to exploit the unexpected twists and distortions it produces as it dries, accentuating these ‘flaws’ with inserts of precious metals.

You can search for Scottish makers working with wood on the Craft Scotland website and browse our database of talented makers.

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Articles on wood and furniture craft

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