Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sideboard and TV Unit Commission

Seasoned oak Sideboard and TV Unit with fumed oak detail.

Here are a few photo’s of a recent commission that I completed for a couple in Wiltshire.

Gentle curves to the outside of the legs are mirrored by the lines separating the sides of the doors and drawers.  The customers wanted the face of the sideboard to have clean and simple lines. This was achieved by using hidden handles on the tops of the doors and the bottom of the drawer fronts. These lines were picked out by setting the drawer fronts and doors in front of fumed (darkened) oak frames.

Fuming is the process of darkening oak by exposing it to ammonia fumes. These fumes react with the oak’s natural tannins to change the colour. The length of time that you leave the oak exposed to the fumes determines the depth of colour. I’ll do a separate blog post on fuming soon. It is a remarkable process, which gives great results!

This is the TV Unit made to compliment the Sideboard. It uses the same gentle curved legs and fumed oak detail. The open cupboard on the left, houses the various sky boxes, dvd players, etc. and has a hole for power leads cut in the back of it. I think the drawer on the right is used to house a small family of remote controls!

I have also been commissioned to make two small side tables to accompany the Sideboard and TV Unit. I’ll put some photo’s of those up when I’ve got some good ones.

Photo’s of these pieces haven’t made it onto the BGO website yet but have a look at the medium gallery there to see more examples of past furniture commissions.


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Top Dog / Underdog

I wanted to share with you, what I thought was some, Stephen Fry – QI style, wood related trivia. That is that the terms Top Dog and Underdog have their origins in the old school method of cutting planks from a log!

When I started re-researching, (as I can’t remember where I heard it from) some quick googling soon suggested that this, wood related, explanation of the origins of Top Dog and Underdog, might, in fact, be fictitious! So apologies to the people who I have already misled with this apparent true fact! Whilst I am clearly not an Etymologist, I do quite like the woody explanation to their origins and anyway it’s interesting to learn how wood was cut back in the day! So here goes…

To convert large round logs into squared planks and boards, without some sort of machine, you will need a big saw and a lot of muscle power! Back in the day, when big machines weren’t around, logs were placed over a saw pit, with one chap (the ‘Underdog’) stood in the bottom of the pit and another (the ‘Top Dog’) stood on top of the log, they each held onto one end of the big saw, and away they went!

This photo is from a fantastic book, “Woodland Crafts In Britain” by H.L. Edlin. Published by B.T. Batsford Ltd in 1949. – isn’t eBay brilliant!

The big scary saw had a T-shaped upper handle, suitably called the tiller, as the chap stood on top had the job of steering the saw in a straight line. While the poor fellow underneath was subjected to a constant rain of sawdust and the apparent risk of the log falling on top of him!

It appears that the more realistic origin of these terms comes from the sport of dog fighting. Even my book refers to the men working the saw pit as the top sawyer and the pitman. Nevertheless it is fascinating to learn how planks were won from round logs and to realise just how easy we have it nowadays!


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