Masters of the Craft

Masters of the Craft

Adrian McCurdy: Furniture Riven from the Log

comments (9) October 28th, 2011 in blogs

JonBinzen Jon Binzen, senior editor
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Adrian McCurdy is now a furniture maker, but he honed his handskills as a timberframer using traditional tools and methods. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Adrian McCurdy is now a furniture maker, but he honed his handskills as a timberframer using traditional tools and methods.

For Adrian McCurdy, furniture making begins with a sledgehammer and a rank of splitting wedges. McCurdy makes stools and benches, even lidded chests and boxes, from boards that he splits directly out of oak log sections. After air-drying the wedge-shaped boards for several years in the drying sheds behind his house in the south of Scotland, he works the wood mostly with hand tools, producing furniture that clearly reflects--in its irregular contours and in its astounding ray fleck--its origins as riven wood.

McCurdy is largely self-taught as a furniture maker, despite the fact that his father, Alec McCurdy (now 96 and writing a book about his career) is a superb furniture maker with roots in the English Arts and Crafts movement. Growing up in England, Adrian was drawn more to fine arts than to his father's profession. It wasn't until he had been painting for 15 years that he discovered his passion for furniture making.

Needing to supplement his income as an artist, McCurdy had been working several months a year for his brother Peter, whose firm McCurdy & Co. was earning an international reputation for restoring and recreating historic timberframe buildings. In his work on timberframes, Adrian learned much that he would later apply to furniture--from hand-tool use and a thorough knowledge of oak to a facility for scribing complex joints between irregularly shaped workpieces.

When a museum curator at one of McCurdy & Co.'s job sites asked if Adrian knew someone who could build medieval-style furniture, Adrian said he would give it a try himself. To complete the commission, he studied what medieval furniture he could find in museums and taught himself the appropriate methods of work--riving green wood planks and legs, hand-tool use, and joinery.

Since then McCurdy has built many pieces befitting the medieval period, but he has also been designing pieces that arise from similar methods but are indelibly stamped with his own striking style.

More Masters of the Craft Slideshows

Geoffrey Warner: Assembling a Life
Peter Shepard Turns the Page
Curve It Like König
Partners in Craft: Harold Wood and John O'Brien
Tool Chest with an Arts & Crafts Legacy
Adrian Potter: Thinking Furniture
Hank Gilpin: Exploring the American Forest
Doug Mooberry: Kinloch Woodworking
Michael Hurwitz: Planks into Poetry
Brad Smith: Story of a Stool
Hank Holzer and Judith Ames: Labor of Love
Michael Fortune: The Clever Chair
John Cameron: A Musician in the Woodshop
Allan Breed: The Past Recaptured
Kintaro Yazawa: Joint Wizardry
Grant Vaughan: Subtropical Virtuoso
William R. Robertson: Micro Maestro

posted in: blogs, pro portfolio

Comments (9)

Red_Wood1 Red_Wood1 writes: Hmmmm... maybe I should sell all my machine! ;) Perhaps I'll aim for one free-form piece a year.
Posted: 2:00 pm on August 4th

twinz75 twinz75 writes: yep perfect life
Posted: 2:41 pm on March 25th

netserv666 netserv666 writes: Jaw dropping awesome ....... I am freshly inspired
Posted: 9:58 am on November 6th

Ramps Ramps writes: Love it, Very inspirational. Adrian has definitely given me a a new view on my work. I have been looking to the more traditional rustic furniture of yesteryear in these parts of the world but this is in a class or two above what I have found ... fantastic
Posted: 5:46 pm on November 5th

Ramps Ramps writes:
Posted: 5:43 pm on November 5th

Makermasters Makermasters writes: Adrian's skill as a Maker of fine furniture is amazing. The beauty of the stroke marks from the adze really accentuates the finish. I hope to see more videos like this. I would love to see how they make those huge beams too.
Posted: 8:18 am on November 5th

bmd bmd writes: Adrian is having a love affair with oak, hand tools and the creative process. The fact that a functional piece of furniture is created when he is done is secondary.

I'm sure he has one foot into nirvana when he is doing this.

His work is similar to the American Rustic furniture culture, using branches, slabs and whatever else gets the job done beautifully.

I could go on and on but his video and work speaks for itself.

Great work!
Birdie Miller
Posted: 6:21 am on November 5th

stewdes stewdes writes: Good comments, Mr. Greene. Truly amazing stuff. 1/2 inspirational, 1/2 discouraging (for I will never even get close to this level of creativity).

Posted: 10:17 pm on November 3rd

JohnGreene JohnGreene writes: A very interesting photo journey and Adrian is an artist that is very dedicated to his work and in the development of each of his pieces. I am always impressed with woodworkers who put their heart and muscle into the craft and are able to turn out such unique furniture just with hand tools. It takes a lot of physical stamina and dedication create the beautiful furniture he has produced.
Posted: 3:39 pm on November 3rd

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