Monday, June 11, 2012

Teak Legs From Burma

I was thrilled to receive a letter from a reader in Burma this past week who made a version of my side table – Skinny legs and all… In case you don’t know, Burma is in South East Asia and lies between Bangladesh and Thailand.The table was made from reclaimed Teak with a local wood called Pinkado for the drawer fronts.

Ashley writes:   “In this country there are only a limited range of timbers available for woodwork and, if you buy from a local supplier, would likely come from some bit of old growth forest and be unsustainably (and possibly illegally) logged.  To get around this I work with a British guy who has set up a small scale furniture production business using salvaged timber and local workers.  His is another story but he has an amazing set-up and produces excellent furniture using mostly hand tools and traditional joinery techniques.  They even re-size all their boards – which come from old buildings being torn down – by hand, using planes they make themselves!  Very old school.  So that’s where I get my reclaimed teak and pinkado.”

I think artisans here in the West may sometimes forget just what a luxury it truly is to be able to walk into a local saw mill or big box store and purchase any number of wood species. This letter reminds me to be thankful for all we have!

Ashley writes: “the table took about 100-120 hours to build over a four month period, which includes a modest amount of stock preparation.  It also includes practice joints on scrap wood as I had not tried several of the techniques and had never built a drawer before.”

The table is finished with Teak oil.
I love what he did with the design by simply eliminating the upper apron thus changing the over-all appearance of the piece. This version has almost a mid-modern feel and I think he did an incredible job.

Ashley writes: “I made a few design changes – most notably dropping the front rail, but stuck to the essence of your design.  And, of course, i did it all with hand tools.  I must say, at the beginning i didn’t think my skills would be up to it, but it worked out OK (my wife likes it which is all the praise i need!). Thanks for the inspiration.”

Ashley, I really should be the one saying-thanks for the inspiration! It’s  amazing to see readers finding ways to make these designs  their own. This is probably the best example I’ve seen to date. Thanks for sharing and I encourage other readers to share any projects they may have tackled over the course of the last three years since Made by Hand was published. I love seeing variations on the designs and hearing from readers from all over this truly amazing planet we share.