Jamie Ward – University days part two

Well continuing with my memories of my university  days. After two years studying on HND Furniture making course, I then gained a place on BA Hons Furniture Design and Craftsmanship Course. It was a brilliant experience, with motivational tutors, excellent facilities and a varied cohort of fellow students.

Our first project was to make a dining chair, we didn’t have full rein over the design, just design the back splat and top rail. Well my chair was not earth moving but I enjoyed making a chair, upholstering the drop in seat and French polishing it too.


European Ash Fraxinus excelsior dining chair, first piece on my degree course, including the French polishing and drop in seat.

So we were off with the making and we had three pieces to make each year. Whilst making this chair we had wood machining sessions to introduce us to the machines, not that machining was new to me, I had spent 9 years as a machinist before going to uni, but its good to get refresher training! During the machining sessions we made a games table, so a reversible top with a chess board on one side and a book matched veneer with banding on the other. I also enjoyed making this fairly straight forward design from European Oak Quercus robur. This was the first time I had used Oak, during my joinery days we used mostly Redwood pinus sylvestris, so it was great to be using these heavyweight hardwood’s.

games table

Wood machining project – an European Oak Quercus robur games table with bog oak/oak veneer.

So we went through the three years designing, making and finishing our projects and learning so much. Using solid timber and understanding timber movement, using veneers and getting to use vacuum presses and making formers. In the first year we also did upholstery, including a drop in seat and a tub chair, not forgetting, making our own buttons. A very thorough education in furniture making and associated trades.

IM000179Staining components for my union flag table (see top picture).

IM000026Getting to grips with various furniture making skills including hand tools.

glassLoved using colour on some of my work, here is a screen I designed and made, influenced by Paul Smith


Finished ‘Stripes’ Screen.

So university was great, we did so much including learning about:-

  • Wood working hand skills
  • Wood machining skills
  • Cabinet construction
  • Visual studies
  • Veneering
  • Laminating
  • Metalwork
  • Upholstery
  • Finishing, French polishing, oiling, spray finishing
  • Technical drawing
  • CAD
  • Business studies
  • Historical and Critical studies (HACS)
  • Design
  • Water-colouring
  • 3D Studio Max
  • and more…………………………………………………

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