The director of Adam Stone Furniture and guest tutor at the Chippendale International School of Furniture, Adam Stone knows a thing or two about fine furniture design.
To give you an insight into the life of a successful furniture maker, we spoke to Adam about his work routine and daily habits.
How do you begin your day?
Firstly, I begin by checking over progress from the day before. Unclamping glued projects, checking layers of finish etc. We then review the job board for each ongoing project and allocate jobs based on priorities.
Do you structure your day?
Each stage of a project is planned and has an estimated time to complete before work begins. This lets us plan our days building towards processes that require significant drying time. So, a day might be structured around getting all components ready for an important glue up so that is has overnight to dry.
When in the day are you most creative?
I find myself most creative at about mid-morning each day. If I have design work to do that’s when I try to schedule it. Getting the day started and then understanding what needs to be done each day helps to free up “brain space” for design.
Do you need anything in place to begin working?
I’m not a naturally tidy person so things are never truly tidy in my workspace, however I don’t tolerate “making do” when it comes to the sharpness of my machines, so I do have a large bank of blades for each machine that get resharpened regularly.
What do you do if you experience creative block?
My business model is based on commissioned work where each project is built to a customer’s needs. This is a huge help when designing as I find limitless choice to be a hinderance when designing. Having some elements set for me by a client is helpful and when I struggle, I focus on those.
What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career?
“If it feels like hard work, you are probably doing it wrong”
This isn’t meant to put people off working hard. Rather, it’s to make them look for the best way of doing things. Even with something as simple as cutting a length on the table saw. If you find yourself having to push hard to make it work, then you need to change how you are doing it. Get a new blade, check for binding, adjust the fence. There are so many different approaches to how we do things too, so keeping your mind open to ideas might save you a lot of effort in the long run.
You are a guest tutor for the Chippendale Furniture School – why do you enjoy returning to teach on the school?
The school is a good atmosphere. It's full of creativity, positivity, and ambition so teaching there is hugely rewarding. Working with students who don’t fully understand construction methods always throws up new challenges for me as a teacher and maker. They aren’t limited by what they know to be easy, “cost effective” or even “the way that’s always been done”. This can be a teaching point as to why the old ways are correct, but it can also be a great opportunity for experimentation and discovery.
What tips do you have for budding furniture makers?
You’ll never regret honing your basic skills. There are some things you can’t avoid doing in woodworking so making those skills effortless early on is important. Time spent making the basics effortless will pay back way more than fancy joinery or other advanced skills early on.
How do you wind down?
I think anyone who is self-employed will tell you that it is hard to do. My workshop is built onto my house, so I think that adds to it. I’m always doing “one more thing” each day. But I’m also not sure I ever really feel the need to wind down that much as I love what I do. A good night’s sleep, good food and plenty of time outside, walking and particularly skiing just now, seem to keep me on track.
Huge thanks to Adam for his contributions to this blog.
If you are interested in establishing a successful career in furniture making, have a look at the Professional Course at The Chippendale International School of Furniture here.