We invite you to read an exclusive interview with Matthew and Moriah from Doucette and Wolfe Furniture Makers. They let the traditional carpentery survive the next „few” years.
1. We know that you are a real woodworker but what make you start dealing with traditional carpentery only?
(Matthew) started working in the construction business building custom homes using a lot of noisy power tools all day. I never noticed how peaceful it was not using power tools until I started working in a shop on the weekends. From there the more I learned about hand tools and the more experience I had using them the more I realized that it is extremely rewarding doing this by hand. Sometimes things might take a little longer with hand tools, especially at first, but with some time you can get pretty efficient with them, and again, in my opinion, it is much nicer listening to a hand plane than a router or sander. (Moriah) works with her hands as well in the summer doing landscaping and stone patios for some of the very nice summer homes in the area. She has always enjoyed working with her hands on crafts as well so it was a good fit.
How did you convince Moriah to work with you?
Moriah and I met at the Vermont Woodworking School. She was involved in a program there over 3 months in the winter and I came to do the same. It was a neat time, the school had just opened and there was only 5 woodworkers there total with us included. She was great at woodworking, but had only imagined it as a hobby. We really clicked and I was ready to start building furniture full time. It only took a few big ideas and explanations of how great it could be and she was onboard.
Have you got any kind of wood you really like but can’t reach?
Wood, I like all types of wood, nothing specific I can think of that is elusive. There is a lot of wood that is amazing, but extremely expensive. Some big slabs look nice, but are expensive if you first do not have a commission. We also have a place called Rare Woods close to us, http://www.rarewoodsusa.com , Rory, the owner has a mind boggling collection of some woods I have never heard of. Once I went there, it knocked a lot of wood types off my list because of the fact he has them.
What is your favorite joinery technique?
I would have to say dovetails at this point. It will probably be different in a couple years, but for now definitely the dovetail. It has a great look aesthetically, can be cut by hand, and used in all sorts of applications. I have seen antiques 300 years old that have dovetails still perfectly intact. A good dovetail joint will last, even if the glue fails for some reason. And as I said before it looks great!
Is social media helps you to find a new clients?
Social media is a great avenue to spread the word and communicate with the woodworking community. I think overall it is not a huge part of our clientele though. The internet is a great tool to get your work out there, but in the end, word of mouth is the best.
Would you like to teach woodworking?
Teaching would be a lot of fun at some point. I think , at least for me, it would be hard to focus on commission work and teaching at the same time. Once I figure out how to better balance my time I will definitely look into it more. Currently, I usually work 7 days a week 8-10 hours a day in the shop, plus the time on the website/videos etc. and I can still manage to be behind schedule. SO basically, it has to do more with time at this point. The woodworking community in general is an amazing group, I have talked with some really nice people that share the same passion and hope to one day have more time to be involved that way.
If you could advice people who want to start woodworking, what would be your list of core tools (3-5 pcs) for them?
If you are looking to use hand tools I would say, a good smoothing plane is very versatile, Lee Valley, Lie Nielsen and HNT Gordon make great tools.
1. A good workbench is important for any type of hand work. If you can not properly hold down your work you will not get good results which can lead to frustration. (This might not be necessary, I have seen some japanese masters on you tube holding parts with their feet while they woodwork)
2. Good hand Plane. If you only bought one, A Low angle jack plane is probably the most versatile. You can change blades for multiple applications, use on end grain and on shooting boards and more.
3. Shoulder plane for tenons, adjusting shoulders etc. Joinery.
4. Chisels is an must for hand work. A lot of chisels work, no matter your budget, you just might have to sharpen more often with cheaper brands.
5. Hand Saw for Joinery and dovetails. If you had to choose one, a japanese saw is probably the most versatile (in my opinion) I use a Dozuki Z saw which I think is about $50 and it works great.
If you plan to use power tools, my favorite tool is a bandsaw. For affordable prices you can get amazing bandsaws now that take up minimum space and have big capacities. You can do everything on a bandsaw. Joinery, resaw, rip, crosscut, cut shapes, everything. I adjust and hand fit everything I cut anyways even off a table saw. I cannot afford to buy the woodworking machines that are extremely accurate in that way. There is so much slight variation in wood alone that I find it impossible to get extremely nice joinery etc. by machine alone. I am sure you can, but again, not what I have used in my budget.
1. Bandsaw , Laguna Tools http://www.lagunatools.com make really nice quality bandsaws that do a lot! Minimax is good as well, a little more expensive.
2. A thickness planer, you can flatten boards by hand if needed, thicknessing by hand takes more time.
3. Table saw- obviously a versatile tool
4. Router you can do a lot with a router, moldings etc.
5. Jointer for flattening surfaces and edges before thicknessing
Have you ever spoil something just before the end of work?
Mistakes……., Me…….., never……………. Just kidding. I have made mistakes towards the end, but nothing that could not be fixed. I made some corner chairs a few years ago and the arm and crest rail is joined from three pieces, then a lot of shaping is needed. When it was almost complete I accidentally shaped/chamfered a section that was not supposed to be shaped. This crest rail is still hanging on my wall as I had to start over and make another one.
What your favorite time of the day?
Honestly, lately it has been after 7pm. I seem to get the most done in the 3-4 hours I work after 7pm. No phone, no distractions at all, Most other businesses are closed so I can’t really do anything else either so I am just working in the shop. Moriah does not like to put the same hours in as she does not want to burn herself out. For some reason my personality works in a way that I never really can burn out on furniture making/woodworking. I would most likely choose to be in the shop even on a day off.
Many thanks to you Matthew and Moriah for your time and interesting conversation. Talk to you soon. We will continue to keep eye on your work, and maybe our next interview we may arrange personally 🙂 Lidka&Jarek