David’s interest in woodworking began at school aged 8, when he began, like most young boys, to make small wooden objects. Aged 11, David demonstrated a natural aptitude for woodworking when his woodwork tutor set a test to join two pieces of wood together in a right-angled joint that would stay together with out glue or any other fixings when pulled in one direction. David carefully cut his first hand cut dovetail joint, by the end of that year he had designed and made his first piece of furniture. It was a Mahogany coffee table made for his parents with side rails morticed and tenoned into the shaped legs, a shelf constructed with dowels and traditional wooden buttons (allowing for the timber to expand and contract naturally) holding the solid Mahogany top in place. The school provided timber for the frame and legs, but had insufficient Mahogany for the top, so his parents had to fund the purchase of the top at the princely sum of £24.00. David recalls his father reeled at the price!
This coffee table served his parents well throughout the years, and when his father died the piece returned home to David. It is still used in his home today, albeit that the top has had to have a slight sand and re-finish.
Having passed his ‘O’ level in woodworking a year ahead of his classmates at just 15 and based on his enthusiasm for woodworking his mother encouraged him to become an apprentice at G.T. Rackstraw Ltd., in nearby Worcester. His 5-year apprenticeship as a journeyman cabinet-maker began in 1975, and during this time he also studied to gain City & Guilds qualifications in furniture and then for two further years at night school a full technological certificate in furniture.
David remained at G.T. Rackstraw for 22 years crafting fine reproduction furniture using time-honored methods. He was lucky enough to use a wide range of exotic hardwoods, many of which are no longer available today.
As a cabinet-maker David had to learn how to faithfully reproduce traditional designs. Typically it also necessary to be able to know how to adapt them to fit todays individual client’s requirements, without losing the key design elements.
He developed a keen eye for detail, realising how important it is to the final product not only to select the right piece of timber, but also the right finish and hardware to compliment the finished piece. Below can be seen a selection of the type of furniture David became accustomed to making while at Rackstraw’s. During this time he also undertook a number of commissioned furniture which he made in his own time.
During his later years at Rackstraw David took on the role of Technical Sales Manager. For 8 years he worked for 2 months of the year at Harrods of Knightsbridge, London, promoting and selling Rackstraw’s furniture. He often gave demonstrations of the cabinetmaking skills employed, and his understanding of the intricacies of the manufacture of these pieces of furniture proved invaluable.
An opportunity arose for David to join the prestigious Norfolk cabinetmaking firm, Arthur Brett & Sons Ltd., as their Technical Sales Manager. In this role he travelled all over the world meeting customers, establishing their requirements, adapting designs, suggesting woods, inlays and finishes, then returning to project manage the manufacture. David remained with Arthur Brett for 7 years.
Driven by the desire to run his own cabinet-making business, David recognised a gap in the market for making bespoke furniture for clients who could not find what they were looking for through retail outlets.
He began making a wide range of free-standing and fitted furniture, prototypes and jigs to client’s specifications, and his business has been established for well over a decade. Some of the cabinet-making projects he has undertaken can be viewed under the ‘Portfolio’ section of this website.