Raw materials his first love

JUDITH RITCHIE
Last updated 12:57 27/02/2013
Erogenous Zones
MARION VAN DIJK/NELSON MAIL
TOOLS OF THE TRADE: Lachlan Park with a dovetail vice made of European beech for a traditional European work bench at the Centre for Fine Woodworking.

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Lachlan Park, woodworker

Heading out of Nelson just opposite the Wakapuaka Hall, there's a turnoff up a tree-lined drive, which leads to the Centre for Fine Woodworking.

Here, graduate student Lachlan Park works part-time as technician. The rest of his time is devoted to making furniture, mostly on commission.

Lachlan came to New Zealand from central Victoria in Australia in 2009, to attend the centre as a full-time student.

Having grown up in a house made from mud bricks, and later working on farms and as an arborist, he had a love of natural materials - particularly wood.

He spent two years studying furniture design in Australia, then six months in Europe, visiting woodworkers.

Lachlan says there is a world-wide network of woodworkers, all with their own specialist techniques, which he was able to see first hand, and add to his own skills.

One visit took him to Scotland, where he worked with Eoin Cox, a furniture maker specialising in green timber.

This wood has not been totally dried before being used in furniture making.

"The beautiful thing about green woodworking is that you're working with wood in a really raw state, because it's so soon after it was felled, and it's in this state that the wood feels most alive."

So why did he come to New Zealand?

"I really enjoyed the course in Australia, but there wasn't the level of craftsmanship that they offer here at this centre. Techniques like using traditional dovetail joints are time-consuming, but really make a piece special. Schools like this are few and far between."

Lachlan's passion for wood, and desire to learn as much about the medium as possible, means every day is interesting.

"I'm fascinated by timber. Solid timbers interest me - the colour, the grain. I like the care you have to take when working with it."

While learning more skills by being around fine-furniture makers such as the Centre for Fine Woodworking's director, John Shaw, Lachlan makes pieces for clients. Currently, he is working on a commission, which is a firearms cabinet made from sycamore.

He enjoys meeting clients, discussing their choice of materials, and working on the design with them. In the future he plans to combine his love of woodworking with travel, by using the networks he has with other woodworkers world-wide.

"Some people, like me, have a need to make things. It makes me happy."

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LACHLAN'S TIP Do what you love.

- Nelson

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