Craft Skills

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Edward Barnsley established his workshop in 1923. Today, in the same workshop, we draw on many years of experience of working with wood. The skills are passed from craftsman to apprentice, from generation to generation.

The aim of the Barnsley Workshop has always been to create furniture with integrity, furniture that is built to last, furniture that will give many years of pleasure in use.

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Barnsley furniture looks and feels special. Clients and visitors to our showroom often tell us what a pleasure it is to touch our furniture. Wood is a lovely material to handle. We plane and sand all surfaces to a silky smooth finish and edges are softened with rounds. But there is much more to Barnsley furniture.

Our drawers run smoothly because we fit them precisely. As you shut one of our doors the only resistance you can feel is air escaping from inside the cabinet. The tray inside a jewellery box floats down gently on a cushion of air. All this is because we work very accurately.

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We use the best materials. In our drawer construction we use quarter-sawn oak for the sides and cedar of Lebanon for the drawer bottom. Dovetails are cut by hand. The joint cutting is faultless.

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We select the components for our furniture with a great deal of care. We scuff off the weathered surface of boards looking for the best colour, figure and grain direction.

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We do not use sapwood or timber with splits. In a piece of furniture we want all the components to match. To achieve this we prefer to use wood that all comes from the same tree.

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However, this often only works if the tree is cut into boards of different thickness. With a table, for example, we need thin boards for the top and thick boards for the legs. So we buy the best quality logs and have them cut into boards to our own specification. We season the boards in our drying sheds for two to five years, depending on the board thickness.

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We pay a great deal of attention to the details. We want clients to appreciate this not only when they first receive the piece but many years later. We fix solid tops with special buttons that allow for future wood movement. Our attention to detail can be seen in the way we fit our inlay lines. We make sure the grain direction of the inlay follows the grain direction of the groundwork.

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Many furniture makers do not take the trouble to fit cross-grain inlay lines across solid timber, but we do, because once glued in, the cross-grain inlay will not pop out when the wooden ground shrinks. We want our furniture to last a lifetime.

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Since the 1940s our furniture has been marked with the Barnsley stamp. This is often in a discreet place and can be hard to find. It could be on the top edge of a drawer, on the back of a piece, on the underside of a chair rail, or somewhere else entirely. To find the stamp you sometimes have to get on your hands and knees. Today, we continue this tradition, but the makers also mark their work with their initials. Our craftsmen and apprentices take great pride in their work and it seems appropriate that they should mark it. Doing this reinforces the individuality of every piece of Barnsley furniture. A discreet mark for every discrete piece of furniture!

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