Jeremy Hurn

wood furniture

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Hand made furniture?

We can safely say that two hundred years ago furniture, and other everyday articles, made from wood were handmade without the aid of power tools. Today the converse is true for the vast majority of furniture.

Factory made furniture is accurately fabricated using machines guided by computers—not only have methods changed but also the materials. Solid wood is replaced by veneered particle board, hand cut joints by mechanical fasteners. While the dining room table made in minutes by machine is readily affordable it lacks uniqueness and durability.

The Shakers who are admired for their architecture and handcrafts and who invented the (water powered) circular saw in 1810 may well have made good use of power tools and plywood if they were available to them. However as well as utility and simplicity they placed great value on craftsmanship— performing every task with care.

For me the Shaker philosophy is the essence of fine woodworking.


I approach each project with the desire to achieve uniqueness in design, fulfill its functionality and ensure its lasting presence. I seek design solutions which highlight the naturalness of wood with simple contemporary lines and satisfying proportions, furniture which provide lasting pleasure rather than novelty. Sometimes the materials I use dictate the design—a particular piece of figured maple would look just right as a cabinet door panel. Other times the wood is selected to suit the design. My studio work often exhibits contrasts: between different woods, smooth wood and the unfinished edge of a log, the massing of elements. I see design as an evolutionary process responding to ever changing influences. Commissioned works are designed to be rewarding and enjoyable in both their execution and their ownership.


I work mainly with solid wood because I enjoy doing so but recognizing that modern materials can be part of the right solution. I use predominately North American hardwoods grown in sustainable plantations and often locally harvested trees which were destined for the landfill or the firewood pile. The lumber for factory made furniture is selected for uniformity, i.e. blandness, but I enjoy the challenge of incorporating natural variations into the design. Continuity of grain and balance are important within a piece—such is only achievable in hand made furniture. Where hardware is required it is selected to complement and not overwhelm the piece.


Traditional joinery is used. Its durability is established and it is able to accommodate the movement which is inherent in solid wood when humidity levels vary. I use a combination of machine and handwork appropriate to the size and nature of the piece. My workshop is very simple with only the basic machinery and since I am producing unique items handwork is often appropriate and more pleasurable.


The rough bark of a Douglas Fir, the satin of polished Black Cherry both yearn to be touched. I select finishes to enhance the feel of wood. Most work receives a hand-rubbed oil or oil and varnish finish which I believe best reveals the natural appearance of the wood and provides a reasonable level of protection; it is also readily repaired or renewed. Such finishes contain little or no solvents; they are kind to the environment and the applicator.

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