Woodcrafts is the skill in shaping or constructing furniture from wood.
We will lead you through different traditional woodcrafts techniques, from the ancient art of hand carving solid wood, to steam bending and the technological feats of CNC machines with 5 axis.
Discover the lost arts of gilding and inlaying wood through the hands of our craftsmen.
Steam bending involves using steam to facilitate bending and shaping wood objects. This technique has been used for centuries, the Ancient Egyptians used it to create chariots for transportation and military use. Today, steam bending remains an ecological and highly-skilled way to manipulate and shape objects. Wood is placed in a steam-heated retort to make it pliable enough to bend. The piece is then bent around a former to provide the right shape for the furniture or piece designed. Different techniques are used dependent on the species and thickness of the wood, the depth of the bend or the shape required.
Michael Thonet observed that fresh wood is more flexible than dry wood: from this observation, Thonet tested the bending of the wood sheets packets, dipped in boiling glue and then dried into rigid forms. This solution, however, did not guarantee the strength of the product, because of the precarious nature of the adhesive. In 1842, Michael Thonet got the patent of the process that made him famous throughout the world: the wooden strips (the beech-wood, by far the favourite for its long, smooth and node less fibres) are turned, placed in an autoclave to absorb humidity, bend with force and fixed in metallic moulds, and then dried; for the finishing touch of the pieces, the “Viennese straw” mounting was followed, another element which became a distinctive feature for the company.
Wood bending is dependent on the species and thickness of the wood, the depth of the bend or the shape required. A number of bends in one piece of timber, for instance, will require hand bending, while a single shallow bend can be achieved using radio frequency bending. Our partner artisans at Ercol carry out 3 forms of bending to maintain the best finish on all pieces: steam bending, hand bending and radiofrequency bending. The back bow of the Evergreen armchair, for instance, has 4 bends in one length of timber. This requires hand bending by 2 men working in unison to ensure the same pressure is applied from both ends. This is the best way to achieve the correct bend on this piece. After this process, the wood needs to stay in the former overnight to dry out in the kiln as with any of the steam bending by hand or machine.
A lathe is a machine tool that rotates a workpiece about an axis of rotation to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, deformation, facing, and turning, with tools that are applied to the workpiece to create an object with symmetry along its axis. While technologies has enabled the craft to program cnc lethe which perform all the operations alone, still many craftsman operate the lethe by hand. Is the hand of the maker in this case that guide the tools while the wood spin along its axis.The woodturning accentuates the surface and creates objects of curvature like bowls, columns, etc.
CNC machines are the most advance technology to carve and cut wood, able to create complex designs. The term “5-axis” refers to the number of directions in which the cutting tool can move. The abrasive tool attached to the robot arm can be adjusted to the detail that the carving needs to reach.
In Marquetry pieces of wood, ivory, metal and other materials are cut to form an intricate design that is applied as a veneer to a furniture surface. Inlay instead are crafted by the creating cuts out on a solid piece of wood which are then filled in with other materials, producing a seamless surface.
Gilding is a decorative technique where a very thin layer of gold is applied on the wood surface. Traditional water gilding is the most difficult and highly regarded form of gold leafing. It has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years and is still done by hand.
Wicker is a traditional woven technique used to produce furniture made of reed, rattan, cane, bamboo or synthetic wicker. Rattan is a naturally fast-growing vine originated from Southeast Asia and it's among the strongest woods, ideal to craft very durable pieces. Its skin can be peeled off to produce Cane and utilized for weaving purposes. Cane is very smooth and resistant while Reed, produced with the inner core of rattan, is very porous and it's therefore used in weaving wicker furniture and basketry. The fast rate of growth of rattan makes it a highly renewable material.