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The Tormek Scholarship Award 2018 in the UK has been awarded to Dan Wall from Worcester. Dan has created a stunning table “#36” with some great detail during his time at Peter Sefton Furniture School in Upton-upon-Severn, and the prize - a complete Tormek Wet Sharpening System - will be very useful as Dan will continue to design his own pieces. Find out how this new woodworker built in the number 36 into his table and now seeks your curiosity and conversation for his work.
Dan decided to venture into woodworking in pursuit of a change in career from supporting children and prior to that Thermal Engineering, choosing a creative and skilled profession that he could enjoy into retirement.
With practical skills that began at secondary school, Dan had made some basic woodworking around his home which was more construction than furniture, enjoying creativity with raw materials. He says “I didn’t have particular skills in this area before undertaking my course” which makes his winning work even more startling.
He was introduced to Tormek at the Peter Sefton Furniture School which started the course with tool sharpening, preparation and preservation. As well as teaching the age-old whetstone techniques, the school was fortunate enough to have Tormek systems available for the students. This was his introduction to Tormek which he says “showed that speed does not necessarily mean sacrificing precision when it comes to tool sharpening”.
Dan designed the piece to be deliberately challenging to test both his ability and to get the most value from the course. The main focus was to produce a piece that was visually striking but maintained practicality; the design challenges its own purpose. It is a table, though the majority of the construction is open space. The design has the crazy caveat that all dimensions (and he means all) were divisible by 36. “I don't know why I did this, but it does give the piece an extra something” Dan says.
The material choice was very important in ensuring the design maintains integrity and stability over time. However, Dan’s choice of wood - Wenge - is very unforgiving on tools. It was crucial that he keep all his tools in prime condition, and this is where Tormek made the difference. “Wenge is synonymous with blunting tools and being difficult to plane, so I had to ensure that my chisels and blades were in top condition for almost every cut. This would have been prohibitively time consuming without the help of the Tormek Sharpening System. The ease of use and performance that the system offers me make it an essential addition to my workshop.”
With the course allowing Dan to pursue any idea he could practically achieve, he worked on the piece for over seven months at college with shared resources for around 100-150 hours. There was no brief as such and this provided him great freedom, in turn Dan hopes the piece inspires conversation and curiosity.
Since completing the course at Peter Sefton Furniture School, Dan has gained work for an established bespoke furniture maker where he is developing his skills and understanding of the trade. He continues to design his own pieces and hopes to show these next year.
Congratulations to Dan from all of us at Tormek. Keep up the challenges Dan!
The jury's feedback reads:
“Dan’s table is a joy for the eye - it combines both the contemporary and playfulness and is executed in a very precise way. Tormek is proud to present Dan with the Tormek Scholarship Award 2018 in the UK and wishes him all the best with his future career and cabinet projects.”
Photo credits: Martin Brown, Dan Wall & Artisan Media