The Woodworker Sessions #15 - Ten Questions with Graeme Goode of Cape Town

Posted by Tobias Lochner on

Question #1

Tobias: How, why and when did you become interested in woodworking?

Graeme: I grew up in a home with a father that was good with his hands – his hobby was restoring classic cars – Buicks, Jaguars, Mercedes Benz’ etc.

From an early age we learned to use our hands (and our dad's tools) to make whatever we wanted to play with or fix. My brother raced cars and I raced superbikes, so we had to work on our vehicles ourselves to make it to race day. To a large degree, we became self-sufficient in this regard.

Fast forward to high school – I took metalwork and woodwork (I eventually concentrated on metalwork) and learned the basics of brazing, arc welding and lathe work. I ended up making a crossbow for my matric final project. Leaving school, studying graphic design and moving into my own home, I didn’t have money for decent furniture and became despondent at what was available quality wise.

Further down the road, this led to me making a Wenge dining room table which rekindled my interest in working with my hands and my love for design. The rest is history!

 

Question #2

Tobias: What aspects of your craft do you find most enjoyable and least enjoyable?

Graeme: I absolutely love designing and then creating the piece that I have seen in my mind’s eye. I will often wake up with something in mind and draw it out – often times I will be watching TV and be thinking about something I want to make – it drives my wife insane. Seeing what I designed come to life is amazing to me.

Sanding and sealing mutes the clean lines that I use in all my pieces and sealing alters the tone of the wood – sometimes a good thing, but I love the raw look of Oak and Walnut in particular.

Finishing a piece is probably the hardest and least liked aspect for me - It means the project is over – its bitter sweet for me.

Question #3

Tobias: What are your favourite hand tools?

Graeme:

  • Veritas Block Plane
  • Veritas Router Plane (Thanks, Matt from Toolcraft)
  • Lie-Nielsen Crosscut Saw
  • Japanese Plane
  • Japanese Chisels
  • My Old Stanley Jointer Plane


    Question #4

    Tobias: What are your favourite power tools and stationary machines?

    Graeme: I absolutely love my Sawstop TableSaw – I have the 3hp Professional Cabinet Saw with a full Incra Fence and Incra Mitre Gauge – it’s quiet, accurate and has an incredible dust collection system.

         

    My other favourite Eskom dependant tools are:

    • Festool TS75 Track Saw
    • Festool OF1100 Router
    • Festool Domino
    • JET 16-32 Drum Sander

                    

    Question #5

    Tobias: What machines, power tools or hand tools could you not do without?

    Graeme: My hands, Sawstop Table Saw, Festool TS 75 Track Saw with my 2.4 metre and 3 metre tracks, Festool OF1100 Router, Betterly Festool Straight Line Track Connectors, Bosch Professional Cordless Drills, Bosch Sliding Compound Mitre Saw, Veritas Block Plane & Veritas Router Plane.

     

    This of course excludes my metalwork tools – TIG welder, grinders and stainless polishers.

    Question #6

    Tobias: Do you use a dedicated space for your craft, what floor area do you have and how much time do you manage to spend on woodworking per week?

    Graeme: Yes – I have 80 square metres at the moment and will be building another 20 square metres on shortly. Due to the amount of welding and spraying I do (both 2K and water based paints and finishes), I need separation between my work areas. Currently I have a steelwork section, preparation section and a woodwork section. My woodworking section takes the lion' share of the space.

    It is really difficult to ascertain my actual time spent, as I work a considerable amount of time during weekdays in the evenings. Weekends are spent in the workshop.

    I have another business which fills my days during the week, as well as doing my martial arts training. So, where I can I will get stuck into whatever I am busy with in the workshop.

    I tend to run multiple pieces in parallel – often four at a time. It's seven days a week for me, work wise.

    Question #7

    Tobias: What was the first piece you ever made, what is your favourite piece and what is the next piece you wish to build?

    Graeme: The first decent piece that I ever made was a crossbow – steel and wood. It was for my Matric final exam. How they allowed me to make this is beyond me, as it was a fully functioning crossbow made from a car leaf spring and White Oak for the stock. It was eventually confiscated when I shot a friend's Parker pen from the 2nd floor classroom at Wynberg Boys High – the pen disintegrated when the trigger was pulled and caused mayhem. Looking back, I am grateful that it didn’t hit the intended target. I eventually got it back in time for marking. (It may or may not have been involved in nefarious activities post this incident)!

    My favourite piece – would have to be my Animus Lamp. It is made from American Walnut, stainless steel and aluminium. It is comprised of 33 individual parts. It is a labour of love and a relatively good seller for the price.

    I am currently busy with a number of pieces, but the next one that I am frothing to make is for an old friend of mine – an American Walnut drinks cabinet. It will be very special.

    Question #8

    Tobias: What are your favourite timbers to work with and what timbers do you tend to avoid?

    Graeme: My favourite timbers are American Black Walnut and White Oak. I love the luxurious feel and look of Walnut – as well as the scent of the raw wood. I try to avoid Obeche, as I find the dust irritating and the wood too soft. I made plantation shutters for my house using Obeche, but would definitely use something else if I did it again. I never work in Pine. Call me a snob.

     

    Question #9

    Tobias: What is your standard finishing process for your pieces?

    Graeme: This all depends on the piece and of course, the client's brief. I lean very much towards the “raw” look.

                   

    Water-based finish that keep the natural colour tone of the wood is critical to me – it ties into my overall design and style of furniture making.

    I cannot stand "yellow" looking woods resulting from being varnished. I appreciate the techniques used and reasons for using these sealers, but I prefer neutral and muted tones, as this allows for compatibility in numerous décor situations.

    When working with Oak, I generally “pop” the wood with a spray to raise the wood fibres. I then sand it down with 80g, 100g, 120g, 150g, 180g & 220g. I then spray my first coat of sealer using an HVLP system. Once dry, I sand it back using 320g and repeat this for three coats. It gives me a robust and smooth finish.

     

    Question #10

    Tobias: If you could add another woodworking discipline to your arsenal, what would it be?

    Graeme: I really would like to create a balance between technology and old school carpentry. There are hand tools and techniques that accomplish what machines cannot and I love the idea of combining the two, which I currently do. I would like to do this more though. I would also like to become proficient in Kumiko. 

    My Wishlist:

    • Jet 8" or 10” Helical Head Jointer (I gave my jointer away and need to replace it).
    • Sliding Table for my Sawstop Professional.
    • Larger Bandsaw (I have my eye on a very nice Laguna 18”).
    • Lots more Japanese chisels, saws and planes.

    You can see more of Graeme Goode's bespoke furniture creations and connect with him at www.graemegoode.com


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    • Thank you for sharing your passion with us, Graeme. I especially appreciate your idea of spraying the raw timber with water to raise the grain before sanding. This makes so much sense, to prevent water based sealer from raising the grain. How I would love to know your intended target on that fateful day! All the best in wood ( and metal) working.

      Brandon Winks on

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