Tales from a small workshop

With Daniel Hill 

Daniel Hill started making furniture for a living almost 10 years ago to the day and set up New Red Furniture

at their Mumbles workshop in 2008. New Red Furniture specialise in high quality bespoke free-standing and fitted furniture in oiled oak and hand-painted finishes.

Tales from a small workshop 

“Return of an old friend”


My first ever paid commission was a contemporary solid oak extending table and benches for a London architect friend of mine. It was a nice start as I was able to get a bit of design input from him so it gave me added confidence that if the piece was well made the result would be a good one.

At a recent 40th birthday bash, he and I were having a pint and he mentioned they were moving house and that after 10 years and 3 small children, the table might benefit from a bit of a refurbish. A week later, I received an email to say the table was on its way and was in a bit of a sad state but had been “much loved”. Indeed it turned up in more pieces than I remember.

It had been specifically designed to come apart so that it could be installed in the flat they lived in at the time; however, during a subsequent house move, it hadn’t so much been taken apart as totally dismembered by an overzealous removal man and had not really been quite the same since.

Wobbly isn’t the word. Any dinner parties must’ve been accompanied by a bout of motion sickness. It would’ve been like eating at the Captain’s table on the HMS Victory. This assumption was borne out by the red wine and other food stains (possibly seaweed) which tell their own tales of dining in a Force 8.

It was indeed a sad sight, but somewhere in there was the old table that I had lovingly crafted as a first job in my new career as a fledgling cabinet maker many moons ago. So I set about stripping it back together with the benches that had suffered an attack from a ball point pen.

Here lies the beauty of solid oak, in that beneath 10 years of grime and “love” the timber was as fresh as the day it was produced. It is first hand evidence of the virtues in investing in bespoke furniture that I have long been extolling. A mass produced table, usually a composite veneer construction will become irretrievably tatty over time and need to be replaced. Solid oak can be sanded and refinish-ed or can be left to take on the patina of age and if looked after will last many lifetimes. It would be great for business if more people had the foresight of our predecessors when investing in furniture.

I reassembled the table as it was intended, and it stood as proud and solid as the day it was delivered. With its new coat of oil, my old friend suddenly didn’t look so sorry for itself and was fit for many more years of loyal service.

Somewhat ironically, this time I used a very durable waterproof oil which wasn’t available 10 years ago, so any spillages whilst toast-ing “Wives and Sweethearts (may they never meet)” may be wiped away with a damp cloth, though please use mats under hot plates and skillets.

Avast ye shipmates!!!


See their website at www.newredfurniture.co.uk for more information and ramblings. Follow the links to twitter and facebook pages for the chance to WIN A LIMITED EDITION MEMORY BOX

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