Furniture maker Andrew Hunter on on woodworking books, the Internet and the smell of zebrawood.
Q & A with Andrew Hunter
When designing the two upper drawer fronts, Hunter initially experimented with matching a solid piece that had the handle cut into it. This was a disaster, but shortly after, while he was on vacation, a pipe burst in his shop, ruining those parts. This turned out well in the end, because the updated version has a nice grain match and an integrated pull on the back of the lower edges of the upper drawer fronts. Hunter also had to cut the legs down about 2" due to the water damage and is now much happier with their height.
Tambour Door Cabinet
This was the first time Hunter used tambour doors in a piece, and he did a lot of research before building them. What you see is actually the second set of tambour doors, because he cut the first pair to size in a sled and didn’t account for the 3/4" piece that positioned the strips evenly during glue-up. The first set of doors ended up 3/4" too short. The second set turned out nicer than the first set, because Hunter took more time to match the strips for colour and grain.
Quotes from Andrew Hunter
In addition to my studio I spent time last year with two friends renovating a very old hotel lobby in downtown Stratford into a retail space. I now have some pieces on display there.
I like laying out and cutting joinery, but lately I just reach for the Domino mostly.
Books profiling designers like Borge Mogensen or George Nakashima are great. Recently I got the Vitra Design Museum’s Atlas of Furniture Design and I think that’s just about all you need. It’s so incredible.
If something is going to be tricky, I make layout sticks and sometimes full-scale drawings on plywood, especially for chairs.
Make sure you’re making sturdy, durable furniture. Make it as reliable and permanent as you can, and then try to make it as beautiful as you can. Then, try to make the next one better.
I think there are a lot of young people woodworking. I think so long as there’s wood, there will be people making nice furniture out of wood.
I don’t place as high a value on my time as I likely should. I’m sure I’ll figure it out one day.
In Canada there are so many great people making some of the best furniture around, likely in the world. I really like my old boss Robert Akroyd’s work, Heidi Earnshaw makes incredible furniture, The Woodshop on Fogo Island, Kastella in Montreal and all of what mjolk sells.
Internationally there are so many great makers. I like all of the great Danes so much, great Japanese makers, lots of people in Brazil making great furniture, so many in Australia, Neri and Hu.
My dad always had a woodshop for hobby purposes, and almost 10 years ago I signed up for college on a whim. It might have been luck, but it’s been a real passion of mine ever since.
When I’m building furniture for myself or as gifts, I like to build without much more than an idea.
I caught a lot of breaks and I live in a very tight community that responds well to people working creatively.
Making furniture seems like it’s becoming more than just a boys’ club and that’s nice to see in any industry. I think most of the furniture I like is more often than not made by people who don’t fit the bill of the typical woodworker.
I think I’ve been my own boss for so long that I’m not sure I could have a boss anymore. It’s become the only thing I think I can do!
I think Canada is becoming more welcoming for makers. Having said that, I know Toronto has had a lot of its great makers pack up and move in the last few years, so we’ll see what happens when people are farther away from the wealth bubble.
I think often about how greatly the Internet has connected and contributed to so many people making such great furniture. I can spend all day looking at new stuff being built all around the globe and feel like I’m contributing to the big picture of craft.