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Turning my childhood passion for woodworking into a furniture making business

Did your childhood hobby or favourite subject in school fall to the wayside in adulthood? Can you imagine picking it up again, and even turning it into a business? This is what happened for Bret Johnston, who made the move from Washington to Scotland, to join the Professional Course at The Chippendale School after being impressed by the high standard of our graduates work. Bret kindly shared his story with us in this blog.

The journey to Chippendale School

I took woodshop in high school and was instantly drawn to turning wood into functional art. From then on, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in furniture making. Creating a piece of furniture that will last for generations is an exciting premise and I am glad I can now say it is what I do for a living. There are many woodworking schools in the US, but I had always wanted to travel to Europe and experience another culture. I toured a few schools in the UK and ultimately chose to study on the Professional Course at the Chippendale School of Furniture because of the great work that has come out of the school. Additionally, my family is of Scottish descent and I had always dreamed of visiting Scotland. My time at the Chippendale School was great. The tutors were all very helpful and put in a lot of extra time and effort to help the students achieve their visions. One of the highlights of the school year was learning to design in Fusion 360. Being able to design a project virtually in a three-dimensional space is a huge asset when determining the proportions and exact dimensions of a project.

Graduating and setting up a business

In 2020, I started Johnston Furniture and completed my first commission since graduating from Chippendale School. It was quite a journey accumulating all of the necessary equipment, but we are now ready for anything that comes our way. The aim is to always make beautiful furniture that truly lasts the test of time, and so we take care to craft each piece with as much precision as possible. Another key element to our business is the way that we work with our customers. It is all about finding a design that is perfect for the client and exploring the possibilities before setting to work making the final piece. Whether that process takes one week or one month, it doesn’t matter, so long as it makes each customer happy! Every customer coming through the door is different, and they each have their own unique taste, which keeps things interesting! We make designs of all kind, from contemporary to Mission style, which is an early 1900’s American style of furniture that is fairly basic.

We are excited for this next phase of the business, as we are now offering bowl turning classes, where we teach students step-by-step how to turn a rough piece of wood into something they can be proud to show their friends.


Bret with his fine furniture designs

Thank you to Bret Johnston for his contribution to this blog. You can view Bret's Fine Furniture Guild profile here.

If you are interested in following your passion and starting your own furniture making business like Johnston Furniture see more information on our Professional course at The Chippendale International School of Furniture here.

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