Bespoke furniture making business ‘Rough Sawn Wood Design’ has recently celebrated its first birthday. Rough Sawn is based in the Victorian Goldfields and has a business ethos that emphasizes the merits of up-cycling aged timber and hand crafting it for new uses as 'one-of-a-kind' pieces of furniture .
Yesterday, Polly Prov interviewed the maker, Laurie Brackley, to learn more.
What’s this business of yours all about?
It’s about reusing, upcycling and repurposing good old timbers that have been discarded, ready for the firewood pile or even the tip, and using these timbers that are sometimes a century old. I turn them into something new to make sure they will last for another century.
When did you first start messing around with wood?
When I was living in Sydney, in the 80s and 90s, I would go through dumpster bins with my mates, when people were renovating. That was old Sydney. We were pulling out beautiful Kauri Pine and all manner of unusual and unique things. We also explored old warehouses, foundries and abandoned factories. At the time, I made coffee tables and picture frames, and sold them at the Paddington Markets, in Sydney's inner East.
So you were rummaging through people’s rubbish?
We were finding value in what people threw out, and that was just the best feeling. You look at it and you go “No. That is not gonna happen! That’s been around for a hundred years and I can do something good with this. Don’t throw it out. It’s not gonna deteriorate. Give it to someone else, coz it will last!” I also kept some of the pieces for my own use, especially chunky timber from the old wharves around Sydney Harbour.
What sort of furniture does rough old timber generally lend itself to?
Usually benches, tables and bookshelves. The timber is not symmetrical or perfect, so I have to work with the timber and let it be what it is. It's all totally unique. In the old days’ furniture had the most intricate designs, but for all it's craftsmanship, that type of stuff sells for not much at all now. You look at old chairs especially and go “My God, the amount of work that went into it means I can not do that.” So unfortunately these days, detailed furniture has has to be left to either high end or Chinese mass producers.
Tell us about the idea for your business name ‘Rough Sawn Wood Design’
It’s from the first cut of the timber, where you can see evidence of the lines of the saw’s blade moving through the timber, before it’s been sanded or worked over. I find that appealing. The best rough sawn comes from the older material from local trees, in a time when the machinery was not as refined as it is now.
What type of wood do you use and where does it come from?
A lot of hard wood from housing, which usually accounts for the local timber. When homes were built a century or more ago, they didn’t bring the timber in from far away. It was from what was available from local trees, at close range.
That’s a good green ethos then, salvaging stuff appropriate to and from the local environment…
A lot of it is Victorian Ash, Red Gum and other local timbers. It gets harder and harder to get. It used to be for local fencing and all sorts of things. If you come across it, great! But I'll work with anything really.
What do you like about what you’re doing and what gets you up in the morning?
Finding a new pile of old timber! I’ve just managed to salvage some Mountain Ash that was sitting out in the weather and rotting, and it’s coming up beautifully. I’m making benches and outdoor furniture with it. Just the act of saving timber is such a great feeling. I make this stuff personally, by hand.
You think to yourself “This would have been thrown away, but now it can be here for another generation.” People can buy this furniture, and if they tire of it, they can hand it on to the next generation. It’s sturdy, and I make it with care, but it’s not done like the old crafts were… If it was as finicky as that, no-one would get out of bed anymore!
Rough Sawn Wood Design has a display stall at the Daylesford Mill Markets on Help Street, Stall 2027, open seven days a week. Rough Sawn does take custom orders. For more information go to: http://lauriepbrackley.wixsite.com/roughsawn
Or contact Laurie directly on 0400 815 705 or via firstname.lastname@example.org