Timothy M. Shead

Custom Design Woodworking

The Process

Design

You need a cabinet to highlight a family heirloom. You’re looking for a one-of-a-kind gift for your special someone. Or you’re simply tired of spending money on flimsy furniture that doesn’t last. My projects combine a minimalist aesthetic that can complement any decor with superior materials, construction, and finish:

Materials

Ever wonder why modern furniture can’t survive more than a move-or-two? It’s the material. Solid wood is stronger and lighter than any of the materials in mass-produced furniture. Better looking, too.

Nails and threaded fasteners gradually work loose over time, leaving irreparable damage. Solid wood construction — mortise & tenon joints, dovetails — is stronger, aesthetically more pleasing, and can last multiple lifetimes.

All of my furniture uses solid wood construction throughout. I work with a range of domestic United States and foreign hardwood species, all sustainably grown and harvested.

Furniture that looks better, lasts longer, and created from a renewable resource? That’s real sustainability.

Construction

The majority of my work is created using traditional techniques and hand-powered tools. But I don’t work this way for the romance or to relive the past.

Rather, I find that these highly-evolved forms are more efficient for one-of-a-kind and custom projects, and bring a satisfying, human touch to my work: curves are more fluid, subtle imperfections give each project life, and every piece is unique.

Finish

I prefer to keep dangerous chemicals out of my life and yours … and I choose my finishes accordingly.

For example, one of my favorite wood finishes is shellac, a natural material made from the resinous secretions of lac insects living in forests in Southeast Asia. Shellac is a remarkably versatile finish, and completely nontoxic, even when ingested — in fact, it’s also used as the coating on medicine capsules.

I mix my own shellac, dissolving the raw flakes in 190-proof ethanol. Old-timers probably wouldn’t like to see good booze used in this way, but it makes for great peace-of-mind to know that my work is “food-grade”!