Jay Miron on shop aprons, Danish modern furniture and working in Vancouver
Q & A with Jay Miron
How long have you been building furniture?
What sort of furniture do you specialize in?
I build contemporary furniture with a strong Danish Modern influence.
Tell us a couple interesting things about your personal life.
I’m a former world champion BMX freestyle rider.
If you were not a furniture maker what would you be?
If I wasn’t a furniture maker, I’m not sure what I’d be.
In order, what are the three most important items in your shop apron?
Adjustable square, pencil, double-stick tape. I don’t wear an apron. Aprons are for cooking.
Do you prefer hand tools or power tools?
Both. Whatever works best for the task.
Solid wood or veneer?
Both. Whatever works best for the piece.
Figured wood or straight grain?
Both. Whatever looks best for the design.
Inherited Vintage Stanley Sweetheart or fresh-out-of-the-box Veritas?
Fresh out of the box.
Flowing curves or geometric shapes?
I love them all.
Least favourite wood?
There’s no such thing.
Photos by Harookz Noguchi
Miron's final project in his first year of woodworking school, he wanted to learn new techniques while building this piece under the tutelage of Robert Van Norman. The tapered-bent lamination legs, the veneered case and dovetailed drawers were all techniques he’d never used before, and building it helped mold him into the craftsperson he is today.
Kern Coffee Table
The inspiration for this piece came from a paint drop Miron saw on the ground. He drew the pattern right away and began messing with different woods. An artist friend, whose nickname is Kernel, helped him with the colours, hence the name, Kern Coffee Table. Each section is different and must be fitted very carefully, and each leg is a different size and shape.
Orca Lounge Chair
While on a trip to Tanzania in 2008 Miron sat in a traditional African Chief’s Chair. It was surprisingly comfortable. Years later he decided to build a contemporary take on it. The main challenge with this design is the leverage points on both the back legs and the seat. Orca Lounge Chair photo by fmphotographics.ca
Quotes from Jay Miron
I have an amazing studio that I share with another woodworker, Owen Crane. It’s above a parking garage and has no big loading door. Because of this, the space doesn’t work for most businesses. That’s the only reason I can afford such a nice studio in such a nice location.
My routine starts in the morning at a coffee shop replying to emails and counting likes. Then I head into the studio and do work. I take two coffee breaks and usually finish my day at 5:00.
I like cutting and using shop-sawn veneer, bent laminations and to hand shape with a rasp and a chair scrape. Any kind of sculptural work is super fun.
I get my design inspiration from the most random places. There’s no formula. It just happens.
Most of my design work happens in my head. Once I can see it clearly in my mind, I draw it on SketchUp, then cut into the wood.
Quit making Camaro tables. I know it’s neat to glue a piece of walnut down the middle of a maple dining table, but speed stripes were made for sports cars, not furniture.
A lot of my designs fall short of my expectations. It’s cool though. If you’re pushing the limits and doing original work, not everything will work out every time.
It’s really cool seeing an idea I come up with completed, but it’s also nice to make a client all stoked seeing their idea completed.
Some clients just want you to build their piece and call them when it’s done, while some want to be heavily involved.
I just signed an exclusive deal with SwitzerCultCreative to represent me. They’re a local showroom and furniture agency. All of my work comes through them now. It’s great to be with them.
Ten years ago, I had never thought about becoming a furniture maker. Five years ago, I just graduated from my second year at Inside Passage and had no studio to work in. Today I have a studio and I’m working away.
One way to bring more young people into woodworking is to get the shops classes back into high schools. Not everyone was made to sit at a desk and type all day.
The most misunderstood part of building studio furniture is the difference in quality compared to furniture found in big box stores. I often have to explain that a lot of wooden furniture is actually made with pressed cardboard and covered in paper-thin veneer, while I build wooden furniture with wood.
Studio furniture makers need to be more social and fun to hang out with. People like supporting cool people who do cool stuff.
Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.
I occasionally forget my apron (both when cooking and woodworking) and I usually regret it. With woodworking it is usually the glue that sets and simply won’t wash. Better on my apron than on my clothes.