Masters of the Craft

Masters of the Craft

David Haig: Bending Timber

comments (14) October 6th, 2010 in blogs, videos

JonBinzen Jon Binzen, senior editor
thumbs up 75 users recommend

Video Length: 5:25
Produced by: Jonathan Binzen

Born in Malaysia and raised in England (where he got a degree in history at Oxford), David Haig moved to New Zealand in his early 20s after his parents emigrated there. He and his wife, Clare, bought a small house with a view of an estuary not far from the city of Nelson. Although early on Haig considered throwing pots or keeping bees, he soon found his way into carpentry and then furniture making. With six months experience working under a furniture restorer, Haig opened his own shop restoring furniture and gradually began making pieces of his own design. 

More on Steam Bending

• Free-Form Steam Bending 
• Video Demo: Hot Pipe Steam Bending 
• Steam Bending 

The rocker he designed in 1989 changed his career, bringing him acclaim and customers from around the world--he's sent rockers to 16 countries--and over the last 20 years he's made nearly 200 of them. In addition to his rockers, Haig builds a range of other furniture, pieces that typically include curving elements produced with steam-bending or kerf-bending.

Haig teaches regularly at the Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson, New Zealand, and also at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Camden, Maine. A well-produced video explaining how Haig builds his rocker is available through his Web site.

posted in: blogs, videos, pro portfolio

Comments (14)

oneIRONMAN oneIRONMAN writes: I am very impressed with your design and not afraid to think outside the box. You have a knack for making some very clever pieces of furniture. You are in a league of your own.
Posted: 9:51 pm on August 4th

michaelkey michaelkey writes: Great article ,where there is a will there is a way and David must have a strong will to bring all that beautiful work together
Posted: 3:31 am on November 17th

ukmeager ukmeager writes: when I saw this chair on my latest magazine My very first thoughts were WOW!!!!!!!Iv'e since watched your video and am sat in front of my machine here in Spain. Absolutely green with envy. After looking at your pictures I thought I detected a bit of Sams influence and I agree double you price I am a typical amature woodworker who makes and thinks Ahh knowbody will pay X for that!! but quality always wins out and even in todays financial climate for the right piece pockets can be deep.So what have you got to loose.If I may be very bold and suggest you look up the work of John Makepiece He creats some wonderful pieces often with many bends or curves in and much of the time using lamination techniques instead of steam bending Hope you don't think I'm to cheeky for this suggestion but I think your work is great

Posted: 8:29 am on November 4th

Josecatalan Josecatalan writes: Awsome! dude ,I got crush ,wen i saw, the chair make me fell thre is noting imposible wen we wana reach a goals ,and tks for the advices.
Posted: 11:49 pm on October 31st

SAyotte SAyotte writes: With the loss of Sam it is nice to know that there are others out there whose work is of the same high quality that will maintain woodworking excellence.
Posted: 7:47 am on October 25th

JeffS JeffS writes: I never heard of David before this issue of FWW and this video. Very inspiring and wonderful work- great video. I loved his other pieces, the desk and occasional tables are beautiful.
Posted: 1:26 pm on October 18th

kiwimo kiwimo writes: I have had the privilege of being taught by David at the Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson New Zealand. David is a scholar and a gentleman and a very good teacher. I commend Fine Woodworking for their decision to share David with the world and I recommend the Centre to anyone that wants an unforgettable experience with wood and creating works of art. Actually, the experience also includes a trip to New Zealand which is inevitably a bonus!

Posted: 11:34 pm on October 15th

Jay_S Jay_S writes: David
I have been fascinated by the way that wood can be re-formed by the simple application of moist heat and applying pressure
to change the molecular make up for many years now.
My father was a CPO in the Royal Navy and it wasn't until he arrived home with an old whaler with several frames and stringers, missing that I became aware of the importance of well-built vessels and how much care was necessary to ensure the seaworthiness of a vessel.
He had an old 6 inch cast iron pipe with a crutch at one end and a wood fire at the other.As you can probably imagine I spent far too much time (in my eyes) holding the dolly, which without doubt must be the most boring task known to man.
He did have the misfortune to be torpedoed several times while serving in the Russian,Malta and Africa Campaigns.I should imagine that this would cement his reasoning that shipshape was of the utmost importance.
By the way David we lived in Whakatane B.O.P. and my father was secretary of the Union at the N.Z.F.P Board Mills.

Jack S.

Posted: 9:56 am on October 12th

ute62 ute62 writes: Having read all that there is in this post and on our website ...and watched the slideshow and ordered the DVD... I wish to thank you...I have been inspired by many and I think that I can include you amongst the great woodworkers who have given me inspiration... I am not sure where this journey will take me but I am having fun along the way and when I am In NZ next year I will surely drop in...
Larry Maykin.
Posted: 5:02 am on October 12th

dfrangipane dfrangipane writes: I steam bent for the first time when I built the 2.5" wide rockers for a heavy mission rocking chair a few years ago. On my first attempt the bending went well enough except that when I let the rockers out of the form 3-4 days later they proceeded to assume different radii. I ended up bending a single 6" wide rocker and after 2 weeks of drying I ripped that in half. That worked out quite well. I'm wondering how David overcame this problem especially since his bends are far more elaborate.
Posted: 9:40 am on October 9th

Dharbas Dharbas writes: David Haig,

Thank you for the inspiration to go back to doing wood working as my father done in the past. Just the fact that you had this vision and made it a reality is wonderful. I am still in awe of how you placed every item together and made it look so elegant, seamless and ergonomic.

Must thank Fine Woodworking for putting this relevant piece in this issue. As remind to all wood workers, new and old that the Vision and Quality must not be forgotten.

Again thank you.

Posted: 12:34 am on October 8th

Rich67 Rich67 writes: When i saw that rocking chair by David, i just went , WOW!! When i heard and saw how he did it, it suddenly dawned on me that i should be teaching myself to steam bend for some of the projects i'm eager to do too!
It must have been fantastic to meet up with Sam, an icon really in the woodworking profession, RIP.
I hope you show us more of your work david, cheers and good
luck with your chairs, Fabulous job.

Posted: 7:35 am on October 7th

YonedaD YonedaD writes: Wonderful work, fascinating look into his design mind. Excellent presentation. Makes me want to take a class from him.
Posted: 11:21 pm on October 6th

watermantra watermantra writes: David Haig's work is just incredible. I've not had the desire nor the opportunity to steam bend with my work yet, but David's work is certainly inspirational, and now that my shop is coming together and has ample room, I believe I'll begin the process of learning the steam bent tradition. Many thanks to Fine Woodworking for finding this gem across the Pacific!
Posted: 11:59 am on October 6th

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