In the Toolcraft Woodworker's Sessions blog series, I chat with woodworking enthusiasts from all over South Africa. They might be hand tool aficionados, power tools specialists, tool collectors, new to the craft, acknowledged experts or anyone in between.
Tobias: How, why and when did you become interested in woodworking?
Mattewis: I was raised on a farm in the Swellendam district. As a child, I spent many happy hours making toys with hammer and nails. As with most children, we weren't allowed to touch my father's tools, so hammer and nails were what I used (and other tools now and then when I knew my dad wouldn't find out).
I built a few pieces of furniture in High School and that was when my passion for working with wood really began.
Tobias: What aspects of your craft do you find the most and the least enjoyable?
Mattewis: Finishing is tedious work for me, but in saying that, it has it's own amazing rewards if you persevere. I love hand tool work. I derive great pleasure in doing hand cut joints and planing parts to a fine fit and finish.
Tobias: Do you use a dedicated space for your craft, what floor area do you have available and how much time do you manage to spend on woodworking per week?
Tobias: What was the first piece you ever made, what is your favourite piece and what is the next piece you wish to build?
Mattewis: Around age 10, I built a small bookcase in Maranti. My favourite pieces are a Stinkwood and Yellow Wood TV cabinet I made years ago and my workbench which I completed earlier this year. My next projects are numerous. In the pipeline are two Yellow Wood and Stinkwood Chess Tables, a Brazilian Mahogany Grandfather Clock (my first steps into the world of veneering), a dedicated sharpening station, ducting and blast gate system throughout the workshop for the cyclone extractor and (I am very sure) plenty of pieces that my wife is going to dream up keep me out of mischief!
Tobias: What are your favourite timbers to work with, what timbers do you avoid and why?
Mattewis: I avoid Pine where I can. Generally I try not to work in Softwoods. I really love working with Stinkwood, Oak, Hard Maple, and Mahogany.
Tobias: What is your standard finishing process for your pieces?
Mattewis: I normally seal with Shellac or sanding sealer. I like the finish that Woodoc 10 gives, when I build up and cut back multiple coats. I also use shellac, either spraying, brushing or ragging it on. I cut coats back with 0000 steel wool. A couple of coats of paste wax are usually my final process.
Campaign Bookcase Style Wine Box in Mahogany
Dovetailed wiith Brass Corners and "L" Straps.
Tobias: If you could add another discipline to your woodworking arsenal, what would it be?
Mattewis: I would really like to learn to do veneering well. Bookmatching, vacuum pressing and working with curves and cauls. I have succeeded in band sawing my own veneer stock and I want to get into using hide glue for veneering, because of it's high initial tack it is perfect for veneer work.