Under the spotlight: treating reclaimed wood.
Stepping under the shade of a veranda, we can hear the swishing of water against the walls of the tank in the washing section of the workshop. In China, the wood found in old, irreparable buildings and houses that are set to be demolished is rescued and reused by the artisan furniture industry. Before it can be used for the crafting of our Marylebone desk, every plank is washed by hand.
Stacks of freshly washed wood sit in neat piles beside a large industrial drying facility and we’re overwhelmed by the natural, musty smells of wet and dry timber. A forklift lifts the wood stacks up and moves them into the dryer, before an artisan closes the door and the wood is left to dry.
As the wood planks come directly from houses and buildings, they bear the marks of use. While grooves and imperfections are the character defining traits artisans look for, old hardware such as bolts and nails have to be removed. In a lively section of the workshop, artisans use the backs of hammers to lever nails out. Sometimes hammering them down to loosen them up, and then yanking them out once and for all.
In order to prevent mould and cracking, the moisture level of each piece of wood is controlled. An artisan works his way over every plank with a moisture meter, checking the moisture level of every single one. If a plank doesn’t have the correct moisture level, it’s sent back to the kiln for drying.
The houses and buildings where wood is sourced can be anywhere between 40 and 100 years old and so not all of the wood can be reused. An artisan marks out the parts that can be reused with bright red chalk and then feeds it into a cutting machine. “The machine detects the chalk and cuts out the part of the wood that can’t be used,” she tells us. “It’s the perfect mix of old and new.”
Take a closer look at our Marylebone desk collection