We often get asked for contacts from our learners- especially in our carpentry and soft furnishing classes. Some of us can remember ancient shops that sold specialist supplies and tools, but as with a lot of places, suppliers have gone online…or just plain gone.
So we thought it would be helpful to people who have attended our workshops and inspiring to prospective learners if we shared our suggestions of where you can start to look for materials and tools.
The Goodlife Centre keeps a small stock of all the woodworking tools we use in most of our woodworking workshops and we keep extra tools and materials used in our upholstery classes.
If you want to buy large quantities of upholstery stuffings, let us know before coming to see us, as we prioritise supplies for our workshops but will happily order in for your collection later.
If you want very basic fast growing pine, you can head for B&Q, but if you are galvanized with confidence and enthusiasm for making our own furniture, you may want a larger selection of evergreen softwoods or more exotic deciduous hardwoods. Most timber merchants have table saws and planer thicknessers and for an extra cost, can convert your purchase to the sizes you need.
As we are London based, our expertise is a bit local. If you know of great places further away that you can recommend, let us know.
Timber is sold in various sizes. What is referred to as ‘1/2 by 1’’ is the NOMINAL imperial measurement before it has been planed – So the actual measurement will be smaller. The finished metric size is 8mm x 19mm. Isn’t that curious? Don’t worry, its all part of joining the secret world of woodwork.
A tip on selecting wood. Don’t grab and buy the handy piece of wood that is propped up in front of the rack. It’s there because it has been rejected by previous customers- probably because is it is warped. Lay one end on the ground and hold the other in front of one eye look along its length. Make sure the wood hasn’t ‘taken a walk’ as Andy Nicholl, one of our woodwork tutors explains to learners.
Despite their name, their branches are in Brixton, Balham, Worcester Park and Colliers Wood. They sell Beech, Oak, Ash, Walnut, Sapele (a mahogany) and Iroko.
THEY SAY- ‘The reputation of FTM has always been built on the excellent service on offer to contractors, builders and the general public. Responding quickly and informatively to enquiries, the expert knowledge given on the products FTM sell is an integral part of the bond with customers. As independents we care passionately about our staff and the good relationships we make with our customers.
Moss Timber is in Hammersmith. They have a large selection of hardwoods and a crest to show that they are ‘by appointment to Her Majesty the Queen.’
THEY SAY – ‘Moss & Co, founded in 1885, remains a family business with a well established tradition of high quality service and personal interest in every customer. Our clientele is wide ranging – cabinet makers, joiners, wood carvers, pattern makers, do-it-yourself enthusiasts, schools, colleges, building maintenance and Government departments all figure largely among the people and organisations that we are proud to serve.’
Whitten timber is in Peckham and open seven days a week. They are a family business and have a large selection of hardwoods.
THEY SAY – ‘We all see the gradual disappearance around us of the family businesses in the trade, swallowed up by the public companies, seemingly obsessed with reducing prices by reducing the level of quality and service. We are proud to offer an alternative and we are happy that the new development will allow us offer quality and service for generations in the future.’
Joyce Timber is in East Finchley. Since 1863. A great selection of softwoods and hardwoods.
THEY SAY- ‘We understand the needs of our customers. With knowledge handed down six generations of timber merchants, our employees exceed expectations and meet most milling and product requirements.
Yet despite our progressive attitude, we have never forgotten our roots P.O. Joyce Ltd remains a family-run business whose employees take great pride in every job.’
It’s not just a saw mill but a fabulous timber yard well worth a visit and a great reason to get out of London.
THEY SAY- ‘Our wood is your wood. We just fell it, cut it, measure it, grade it, stick it, dry it, love it, select it and then machine it (if you want us to).’
Slivers of wood to surface and decorate your handiwork. Besides the fabulous experience of seeing- and smelling- crispy piles of exotic timber, it is always best to select veneers by eye. However, if you need to buy sight unseen, use a good company who buys reliable qualities.
When I was a college I used to visit Crispins its beautiful premises in Curtain Road Shoreditch. There were three floors of darkened rooms lit only by daylight when the shutters were pulled back to view precarious piles of exotic timber. They now have a shiny new warehouse and a website.
Veneer hub also have a good, clear website and sell small ‘variety packs’ to get you started.
Steel-tooth blades, as well as those with carbide-tipped teeth, can be resharpened. Some blades can’t be resharpened — a sharpener can tell — and some are so cheap that they just aren’t worth the expense. Call to see if they can handle the type of blades you’ve accumulated. Get a price estimate, too. If you have a saw that you love, these lovely people will sharpen a saw for you for about £15.
If you are looking to rent a space to make your own stuff, you may find a link to one of these spaces here. Some of these workshops have specialist machines to help with your project. Contact them directly and tell them what you need.