Solid Walnut Custom Design and Hand-Made Media Unit

We were commissioned to design and make some custom furniture for a client. The first piece required was a media unit, to be made from solid walnut. The design brief was for a modern looking unit, with adequate storage for DVD’s and game boxes. To house a large flat screen TV on-top, with a vast open cavity to place video and audio equipment.

We set to work, sketching up ideas for the furniture in order to present to our client. Once sketches were approved so we moved to the computer to produce a variety of options for the finer details of the custom built media unit. These were presented to the client as computer renders…

Once the final design was approved, we then set about drawing up ‘shop drawings’ for the media unit. These would ensure the client was getting exactly what they wanted before we started work on the custom built furniture. The drawings were presented and the client was excited to get started with the build.

Now the fun could really begin… we hand selected the ‘rough-sawn’ walnut timber from our local yard and began the process of planing and ‘thicknessing’ down to a finished thickness of 25mm. The planks were over 2.4m in length and 34mm in thickness so really took a bit of wrangling into shape!

Once the solid timber was down to finished thickness we could then start to shape the planks. Although the design looked relatively simple there were a lot of tricky little details to negotiate on this custom build. The first was a 45 degree chamfer which ran all the way around the inside front edge of the finished furniture. We used a track and router to machine this on….

We were slightly concerned with the final design requested by the client of a large open cavity across the entire span of 1800mm, we felt with our experience that the solid timber would eventually ‘sag’ over time if un-supported across this distance. The client urged us not to put any visible supports in this area, so we devised a fabricated metal frame produced from 16mm box section that would run under the entire span of the top, then down both sides, This would be hidden in a machined channel and provide the support required to stop the sag.

The parts for the unit were now taking shape and time for a ‘dry’ fit of the components before being glued and clamped into place. Masking tape was applied to all edges that would come into contact with the glue, to allow for easier clean up and sanding especially in place hard to reach on the custom built furniture.

Once glued and clamped we could then start to work on the drawers and fronts. For the front of the custom built drawers we chose one continuous piece of walnut to add a beautiful and unique feature to this stunning piece of bespoke furniture.

Once the drawer fronts were cut to shape we could start to produce the drawers themselves, from 12mm premium quality birch ply. We used the top of the range Blum runners which are push to open and soft close, they took a bit of fine tuning but once perfected worked beautifully to give a smooth ride!

Just the frame to go then…. custom designed leg-frame shaped on the band-saw, sanded down to 240 grit. We used the trusty domino to produce accurate mortice and tenon joints for the frame to provide a great degree of strength required to hold what was turning into a particularly weighty piece of hand-made furniture.

The final piece was now ready for the finish, we chose a beautiful matt natural oil finish. Hand applied with very fine steel wool then wiped off, this process was repeated several times until the right level of sheen and protection was added to the timber.

The piece was then delivered to our extremely satisfied and happy customer, who was over the moon with his hand-made custom furniture designed and built by District Furniture

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