Student blog - 2012


Box Christmas Tree!

All these boxes were made by our current students as their second set project.  We encourage them to design their own lid and box interior.  Boxes from top to bottom, left to right are made by, Jessica, Kung, Katie, Richard, John & Jason.

Follow us on ‘Facebook’ and vote for your favourite box!

Merry Christmas from everyone at Williams & Cleal.....!

Dec 21, 2012


Bonaventure in 'Wallpaper'

Student Bonaventure Touton makes the highly acclaimed ‘Wallpaper Graduate Directory 2012’.  Wallpapers “Annual recce of the young guns who are hitting the creative bullseye”.

Bona made his retro cabinet while on his 40 week course with us and then displayed the piece at ‘New Designers 2012’, where he were his talents were acknowledged by Wallpaper!  His piece is also highlighted in this month’s edition of Wallpaper (January 2013)!

Dec 18, 2012


Wooden Pebbles!

Kung's side project 'Pebbles' are a very versatile set of tea light holders. They can either be used stacked up or individually. These small side projects are great for filling the little gaps of time between bigger projects!

Dec 17, 2012



Kung has recently finished his display unit, ‘Yin-Yang’.  The piece is made in contrasting timbers; Wenge and Steam Pear.  Yin-Yang meaning "shadow and light" - describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world.

The piece required some tricky jointing, with curved shoulder lines and components meeting at very acute angles on the front and back frames.  While the remainder of the carcase is made from veneered panels, with the two side panels laminated from layers of 3mm MDF, around a former. 

Dec 14, 2012


Finished Boxes!

New Students Jessica, John, Katie and Richard (boxes shown in that order) have all finished their second set project, a dovetail box!  We encourage them to design their own lid and box interior, showcasing their creative side.  They have all done an excellent job, with all the boxes being made to a very high standard.  Congratulations!!

Dec 13, 2012


Bona's Chair - Part II

With Bona’s chair frame complete, all that was left to do was the leather work and fillet strips to hide all the fixings. 


First Bona had to burnish all the edges of the leather strips, which he did with a piece of ebony in the router table.  The desired profile was turned onto the piece of ebony and then the edges, pre-soaked in saddle soap, were passed along the spinning profile.  Candle wax was also rubbed along the entire length of the edges, with the end result being, a nice smooth profiled edges to all the leather strips.

The leather strips needed to be fixed at one end and then stretched tight and secured at the other end, to create a nice taut seat and back rest!  Once all the leather strips were in place in one direction, leather strips were then woven in and out to and secured in the opposite direction to achieve the finished effect!  See the 'Student Gallery' for photos of the finished piece! 

Dec 12, 2012


Bona's Scorched Ash & Walnut Chair

Bona is now coming to the end of his course with us, but as a final project he is making a chair.  The chair’s design evolved from combining two of Bona’s favourite eras; the retro furniture of the mid-20th century and the recent Danish and Scandinavian styled furniture. 

The back frame is made from scorched ash, which contrasts with the Danish inspired, somewhat lighter, walnut front frame.  The chair’s back frame was also designed with ‘batch production’ in mind, as the components could easily be CNC produced.  Rather than traditional upholstery, bona opted for a woven black leather seat and back rest. 

When scorching it is always best to burn all your joint junctions before gluing the frame together, as it is sometimes hard to get into these internal corners, without burning the wood too much and losing its crispness.  The scorched back frame was glued up with ‘Polyproof’ due to its heat resistance properties. 

Bona has learnt a massive amount from this project, including: metal stud work and west system joints on the front frame, angle grinding the chair’s sculptural arms, scorching the back frame with a propane gas burner, and all the techniques involved with the chair’s leather work.

We’ll post photos of the final piece in the student gallery, as soon as the chair is complete!

Dec 3, 2012


Newly finished projects!

Just thought we would show you some newly finished commissions by Williams & Cleal.  A pair of bookcases in Walnut & rippled Maple recently delivered to the client.

A set of Walnut 'Tree Chairs' are coming to an end now, with half of them finished, and the other half in the process of being glued up.


Nov 15, 2012


Concrete meets English Walnut!

Some of the students are now reaping the benefits of exhibiting at 'New Designers', where they were given the opportunity to promote themselves and make some all important new contacts!

Previous student Peter Kindt, recently had his Concrete and Walnut table showcased in Good Woodworking - Issue 257.  

Via contacts made at the show, Peter also now  has his ‘RAW’ chest of drawers displayed at the  'Timothy Mark' showroom.  Hopefully soon to be joined by fellow previous student Chris Burley (Heliconia Furniture), who is also looking to display his 'Briget' Walnut cabinet (shown below).

We wish them both every success for the future, and hope more great opportunities arise! 


Nov 14, 2012


Any one for a piece of cake?

The students take 5 minutes to grab a piece of cake and cup of tea in their afternoon tea break!  

This beautifully made carrot cake was prepared by current student John’s girlfriend, Lisa who makes the most amazing selection of cakes!  Check out her blog page ‘Lisa’s Nice Buns’.


Nov 7, 2012


Glue up time again!

Gluing up a project that you have been working on for a number of weeks or even months can be a fairly stressful time.  The key to a successful glue up is good preparation. 

Kung’s 'Elephant Table' has a deceptively simple appearance, but required much consideration on the best method for jointing and gluing up the finished piece.   The majority of the occassional table’s dramatic shaping was done using an angle grinder.  

The newly finished piece in Stained Sapele, can now be seen in the ‘Students Galley’


Nov 7, 2012


Scorching Hot!

At Williams & Cleal, we are happy to use a mixture of traditional and contemporary methods to get a desired effect.  One of our new students, John, wanted to try sand scorching, which is a very traditional technique used in marquetry.  

Sand Scorching is basically heating up sand in a container to a temperature hot enough to scorch the veneer edges, in order to achieve the desired effect, adding shadow and depth to an image.  It is often used  to give the illusion of three dimensions. 

John wanted to use this method to give the impression that the strands of his Celtic pattern were under and overlapping!  We'll post the end result as soon as the box is finished!


Oct 30, 2012


'London Design Week 2012'

During London Design week Jane took a group of the students to visit some of the exhibitions including ‘100% Design’, ‘Design Junction’ and ‘Tent London’.  The three exhibitions all have very different vibes and showcase some of the UK’s leading designers, as well as up and coming talents.

Visiting these exhibitions helps provide the students with an insight into the furniture industry and hopefully gives them some inspirational ideas to take away and explore.  It also offers them the opportunity to meet fellow designer/makers and gives them ideas about how they might promote themselves!

Oct 25, 2012


Carving a Niche!

We got involved with a project with a local carver - Tom Preater who carved this stunning religious scene.  We had the easy part of making the massive 2.1m x 1.3m, 4inch thick Oak carving blank.  Leaving Tom to hand carve the entire scene over a number of months.  We next sprayed the carving and helped deliver the finished piece.  

Oct 24, 2012


It's all about the finish!

Some people say that polishing is one of the most important aspects of making a piece of furniture, and we would completely agree!  Here’s Kung applying the stain to his recently finished Sapele coffee table.  See the finished table, along with other recently finished student pieces in the 'Student Gallery'.

Oct 23, 2012



Our Steamed Pear console table was recently showcased in this month's issue of Good Woodworking - Issue 259. This speculative piece was originally made for ‘Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design 2012’.  The piece explores the contrast and beauty that timber evokes both in its raw and finished form.  

Oct 22, 2012


Laser cut to perfection!

On our 40 week courses the students make a dovetail box as their second set project.  We encourage them to design their own lid and interior of their boxes.  Tom opted to CAD up a landscape scene and have his design laser cut from different veneers!  Isn’t technology great..... impressive stuff!


Oct 19, 2012


Busy, Busy, Busy!

Sorry for the distinct lack of blogging recently, but we’ve been so busy, what with finishing bespoke commissions, various exhibitions and 4 new students starting, we just haven’t found the time!  Hopefully the next few blog updates will give you an idea of what we’ve been up to!

Oct 18, 2012


Chris Sleigh

As part of our full time course, we teach the students about photographing their work. Here you can see Chris in action. He has recently uploaded photo's of his work onto his website, so please take a look.

Chris Sleigh Gallery

Aug 15, 2012


Success at New Designers


The show went well and the students learnt a great deal from the whole process. As you can see from preview night, there were plently of people, some important contacts were made and a piece of furniture was also sold!

A big thank  you also to the buyer from Heals, who took the time to impart some valuable tips about selling, and also offered the students the opportunity to contact him after the show.

The work attracted alot of well deserved praise so a big well done to Peter, Alastair, Chris B, Bonaventure and Chris S. Good luck in following up your leads.

Finally a photo of Peter and Bonaventure who also found time to enjoy the whole experience.


Jul 9, 2012


Less than a week to go!

There is so much going on in the workshop at the moment, both for students and Williams and Cleal furniture.

The New Designers show is less than one week away. Preparing for it has been such a good experience for our students and has really focused their efforts.
We have had endless discussions about websites, promotional literature, business/design identity, pricing etc.

Those exhibiting will be manning the stand and hoping to get some valuable contacts, and fingers crossed some commissions and sales as well. If you are up in London please come and say hello.


click here to see who will exhibiting at New Designers 2012!


Williams and Cleal Furniture have also been working hard, with currently three projects on the go. A set of 8 dining chairs, two bookcases and a very large display cabinet.

As you may have already read we are also exhibiting at 'A Celebration of Craftsmanship'.

If you are able to visit, look out for a new piece we will be producing espicially for the show.  


Jun 29, 2012


Finished boxes

New students Jason and Kung have just completed there first main project - the box! Congratulations to you both.


Jun 24, 2012


‘New Designers 2012’ Sneak Preview!

Low cabinet by Bonaventure Touton


Just thought we would give you a sneak preview of a few of the pieces finished and ready to go to New Designers.  Our students will be exhibiting at New Designers between 4 - 7th July 2012, at the Business Design Centre, Angel Islington.  The Design Centre is only a two minute walk from Angel Tube Station (Northern Line), and it would be great to see some of you there!


Media stand by Peter Kindt

Jun 22, 2012


Day Out at 'The Contemporary Craft Festival'

We took some of our students to the 'The Contemporary Craft Festival' at Bovey Tracy, in Devon.  It is a great opportunity for them to network with fellow craftsman, get some ideas for exhibiting their own work, and be inspired by creative work by other designer / makers!



Jun 15, 2012


Camara, Lights, Action!

With ‘New Designers’ only a few weeks away we are busy having promotional photographs taken, designing the stand, and preparing literature for the show.  There is a real buzz in the workshop, with all the students taking part getting really excited about the event!

Jun 13, 2012


Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design

We are pleased to announce that we are going to be exhibiting at this year’s ‘Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design’, from 18th - 27th August 2012.  CCD is the largest exhibition of contemporary designer-maker furniture in the country.

May 23, 2012


“New Designers is an event full of innovation and fresh thinking”

Exciting News.......We will be exhibiting at ‘New Designers 2012’.  Five of our students, past and present, will be showing their work at this prestigious graduate event.

‘New designers’ takes place over a two week period, with 9 dedicated design zones including; Furniture, Product design, Ceramics & Glass, Jewellery, Textiles and Fashion.  We will be exhibiting during part 2 of the exhibition, between 4 – 7th July 2012.

Along with over 3,500 talented graduate designers, our students will be showcasing a selection of their work to help promote themselves, network with potential clients, and celebrate all they have achieved over the past year with us.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, as we update you with our latest progress towards the exhibition!

May 22, 2012


The moc-up!

When designing a piece of furniture, I frequently encourage students to produce moc-ups. Not only is it far easier to respond to a full size, three dimensional object, but also on a practical level it allows you to discover and resolve making issues.

This occasional  table is an excellent illustration of this. Alastair Murray has also painted the moc-up to make it easier for the eye to view its overall form.



May 15, 2012


Guild Mark Confirmed!!

Final confirmation of Mark Ratcliffe’s Guild Mark! Congratulations!!


May 4, 2012


Tray in 2 days!


I wanted to congratulate Thomas Whittingham, a student new to furniture making. Not only is the quality of his making very good, but he also managed to make this tray in just two days. Made in Walnut and Maple it incorporates laminated handles and also hand cut veneers. Quite an achievement.

Apr 27, 2012


Alastair Murray's Sideboard

Alastair's stripy sideboard in figured walnut and poplar is now all finished!!  After producing this stricking sideboard as his major piece on his 40 week course with us, Alastair is now renting workshop space working on his next commissions.  

See our Student Gallery for more photos of the finished Sideboard!

Apr 18, 2012


Mark Ratcliffe Wins Prestigious Bespoke Guild Mark!!

Hot of the press...... Previous student Mark Rafcliffe has just informed us that he has been awarded a Bespoke Guild Mark for his ‘Oakridge Sofa Table’.  This stunning table was designed and made by Mark as his major piece on his 40 week course with us.  This coveted award from the ‘The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers’ is only given for exceptional design & craftsmanship.  Congratulations Mark! 

Apr 5, 2012


Chemical Reaction

Our finishing sessions cover everything from french polishing to spraying. I thought I would show you the results of this particular session as believe it or not all the pieces of oak are from the same plank and yet no stains were used to achieve the colour differences.

They were all produced by chemical reaction. I particularly like the four at the back as they look natural. They were fumed for different lengths of time to adjust the depth of colour.

Mar 28, 2012


Tim Jenner's Table

It's been a busy couple of weeks. A number of students have finished their projects and I thought I would give you a sneak preview of this stunning coffee table made by Tim Jenner. Made in Burr Oak veneer and Solid Oak.

Mar 14, 2012


Concrete furniture

Peter's white concrete and walnut coffee table is now completed. A recurring theme in his work is to contrast natural and manmade materials. He also gained so much knowledge from undertaking this project.

A great success! 

click here to see more images

Mar 5, 2012


Angle Grinding

At last! it was a sunny day so Jim decided to take the students outside and demonstrate how to carve into the surface of timber or MDF using a small angle grinder. Each student had a go, and a few were so taken with its potential, that they are now  looking into how they could incorporate this technique into there own work.

Feb 27, 2012


W&C - Recent Commission

We have just finished and delivered these two chest of drawers to a customer in Wimbledon. Made in English Cherry, Rippled Sycamore and Walnut.


Handle Detail


Feb 18, 2012


Concrete furniture

Peter is mid way through his time with us and is very experimental in his approach towards materials and finishes. For his current project, a coffee table,  he has taken a waney edge plank of english walnut and set in in white concrete. I will post a photo of the finished piece.

Jan 27, 2012

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