High End Material

Bespoke high end looks

What makes a piece of furniture bespoke? How does it differ from factory produced furniture? It’s not just the unique essence of the furniture of course it’s about the workmanship and knowledge of centuries-old techniques in creating form and craftsmanship that ooze luxury. The other critical aspect is the materials selected by the client. Often it could be solid wood or veneers that a client will choose alongside beautiful detailing that really sets off that luxury look.

High End Material - Ashton Bespoke furniture

Different substrates

There is such a wealth of beautiful wood and natural veneers to choose from and we have the knowledge of what will work best both for the construction and purpose of the piece. All these wonderful woods and veneers can be susceptible to colour change over time. Oak, elm, cherry, walnut and chestnut, to name a few, contain natural tannins that the furniture maker will be aware of but perhaps not the client. We look on this as a natural patina, that brings lustre and depth with age. Then of course you have the choice of all the beautiful dyed veneers, nowadays which again need an element of protection to maintain their colour. It may be that the client is drawn to a different look such as fumed oak or eucalyptus which is a wonderful option caused by a natural reaction to the presence of ammonia in the atmosphere. Whatever the choice, our skilled craftsmen know every substrate inside out.

Luxury Materials 

Everyone is looking for that unique wow look from furniture. The impact does come from the beauty of the piece itself but quite often it’s the choice of material used that give it that gorgeous luxury feel. Liquid metal for example can be a popular choice and we work alongside specialist artisans that can produce this work. It could be leather, fabric, stone or metal such as brass or polished stainless steel, or even mother of pearl that the client wants to feature within part of their furniture. It is critical that the furniture maker understands the way those materials inherently work differently to each other but in turn appreciating how they can also complement one another. This knowledge is key to producing high end bespoke luxury furniture. We have decades of experience in understanding how to achieve this.

high end material - ashton bespoke samples

Finishing

This is such an important aspect of delivering high end furniture. Whether its beautifully polished high gloss or a matt look which is increasingly popular now, we have the expertise to do this. This is the surface that people will touch and enjoy a sensory experience, thus to understand that this must be as perfect as the making is unequivocal. Our care for the surface doesn’t finish when it leaves us, we also provide after care instructions to ensure our clients understand how to care for the piece so the finish remains perfect over the years

Sample library

We know that clients want to see how different materials look so we have taken time to assemble a sample library. This can be viewed onsite safely in our meeting room or we can bring a selective few which may work better when viewed in the space intended for the furniture. The way different materials look and feel is part of the process when making these important choices.

high end material - ashton bespoke samples

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Spraying In High Humidity & Hot Weather

All about the finish

You’ve spent hours in the design process and lovingly handcrafted the joints of your piece of furniture but ultimately sometimes the clients look no further than the finish. Harsh yes but in fairness it’s the outer facing part of your furniture that everyone will see and touch, so it must be good. All lacquers and paint are affected by extremes in temperature and as it hots up during the summer months, we’re going to look at what impact that has on your surface.

Hot in the spray booth 

If you are lucky enough to have an environment that has temperature controls, then you can escape the pitfalls of spraying in high temperatures. If you don’t have environmental controls in place, then you must do what you can to mitigate potential issues. There are lots of things you can do such as ensure you are in the booth nice and early when temperatures at their lowest. We have also heard of businesses who have used a sprinkler system on their roof to keep the temperature of the building cool but measures like are to be approached cautiously as they may come with their own issues.

spray booth - Spraying furniture In High temperatures - Ashton Bespoke

Grainy surface 

You’ve just finished spraying and noticed the surface is rough and grainy. When temperatures are high, as you spray the solvent flashes off mid-air and is already dry by the time it hits the surface of the furniture. What can you do to stop this? Most manufacturers will offer a slow thinner or retarder that will just buy you more time and slow down the drying. Your rep will be able to advise you on the right product that works with your lacquer or paint.

Blush or clouding

This occurs when there is moisture present. Quite often this occurs in lower temperatures, but it can be an issue in the summer months when the humidity is high especially here in the UK. Humidity is at its highest in the mornings and as the temperature rises throughout the day the moisture content lessens. It’s therefore a balancing act between leaving enough time for the moisture content to lessen but spraying before those temperatures climb so high that you face other issues.

Amateur meteorologist

No one is suggesting you study meteorology, but the bottom line is if you know you will be spraying, and the temperature is up you will need to monitor and exercise real caution. Most people have a thermometer and these days for very little outlay you can buy one that measures humidity as well. The data sheets for your lacquer and paint will state optimum temperatures for spraying so anything above that will need a slow thinner or retarder. Humidity over 70% can be problematic so it’s something to watch when UK summers can be very sticky. There’s a strong case for just downing tools when that thermometer rises so take a well desired break, soak up the sun and enjoy some air con!

Effect of UV on wood

UV colour change issues

The client has chosen the right substrate for their project and then after installation they are unhappy because down the line the colour has altered. As furniture makers we know that timber and veneer are subject to natural colour change through photo-oxidation with light. This however may not be something our clients are aware of so how do we deal with this and is there anything we can do to stop this happening?

Planning for the end environment 

The first step is to ensure at planning stage that the space for which the furniture is intended is fully assessed. For example, are we talking a living room with floor to ceiling windows or perhaps French doors that will flood the room with light? People choose wood because it is a natural substance that evolves over time so politely ensuring clients know that change is inherent to the material is critical. The client may also be choosing the substrate to match furniture they already have. Once again at planning stage, it is prudent to take samples of a potentially problematic substrate such as cherry or walnut and show them different colourations against that which is already in situ. At Ashton Bespoke we know how to care for certain substrates, how they behave and change in UV and what we can do to offset that where possible.

 effect of UV on wood

Pre-dyed veneers 

The pre-dyed veneers are still incredibly popular but retaining the colour of these can be a real issue. There are lacquer systems on the market that have been tested to a high standard using simulated UV in climate chambers. These can slow the process and protect the surface to a degree but there will be always be changes over time. We probe our clients on where the piece of furniture will end up for example is the piece destined for a yacht where it will be exposed to high levels of UV and humidity. To ensure its fit for purpose, we source the right certified and tested coatings applied in an optimum environment. 

The wood or the lacquer: reading the fine print

We have already discussed some substrates that are more problematic than others so how do you identify the culprit, wood or lacquer. The simple answer is if you want to keep your reputation then it is best for you to carry out your own testing in house. Here at Ashton we have experimented with various manufacturers lacquers ensuring careful controls and of course left one sample uncoated. Once we’ve had our samples labelled, we left them somewhere with UV exposure and monitored over time. It reassures your client that you understand each substrate and coating system plus it safeguards you. There is an argument that this knowledge is one that comes with experience but sometimes it’s worth blocking out some time in the spray booth to go through this process. It gives the furniture maker confidence in their substrate and their coatings and ensures you are producing pieces that are fit for purpose.

Wood Samples - Effect of UV on Wood
Ashton Bespoke Office - furniture makers

Cabinet making using history and technology

Cabinet Making Heritage

We love a challenge at Ashton Bespoke and sometimes our client’s briefs drive us to evolve and find innovative solutions. We have a highly skilled team of craftsmen at Ashton who have trained and honed their abilities allowing us to create unique and beautiful fine furniture. Cabinet making has been a skilled craft for centuries in Britain with knowledge that is passed down through generations. We’ve come a long way since the first rudimentary flint tools were used but those first woodworkers are part of the heritage of cabinet making. We draw on all that inherited skill and ancient techniques and marry them with modern machinery at our disposal to deliver what our clients want.  

Flint Tool - Cabinet making heritage - ashton bespoke
Flint Tool - Cabinet making heritage - ashton bespoke

The Challenge 

For one of our recent London based projects, our client wanted to achieve a reeded effect to the central door panels of some wardrobe doors. We knew that to deliver this for them, the face side would have to be solid oak. Our first challenge was to work out how we could machine this accurately. We had to consider both factors as making the panels in solid substrate would also create an issue. We knew that the door panels will expand and contract so this would have to be incorporated within the design to allow for this. Another aspect of the design was an inset antique bronze detail set between the door panel and the door frame. This meant that we were not able to incorporate an expansion gap for the door panel. The final factor for us to consider was that making these in solid oak this would mean that the doors would also be heavy. 

Cabinet Making Heritage - bespoke wardrobe - Ashton Bespoke
Cabinet Making Heritage - bespoke wardrobe - Ashton Bespoke

Innovative Solution 

The solution was for us was to use an aluminium honeycomb core to the panel which would give strength, stability and reduce the weight considerably. This structure consisted of a 15mm thick aluminium core with 8mm of solid oak glued to the face side and then two layers of constructional veneer glued to the back face. To make the reeded cut we had a special tooling made for the CNC machine, which is a computerised router that will cut to the thou of a mm accurately. It took several passes to complete the panel, but we felt the final effect was stunning. A simple design but one which challenged us to utilise our knowledge of wood and tooling allowing us to evolve our skills once again. A project that was solved using the experience of our cabinet makers and then embracing modern technology to deliver a superior product.  

Click here to read more about us and our process