Just as a quick recap, I was commissioned to be part of this project by designing and making fitted storage solutions and a desk space for the Young Women’s Music Project in their new home at Makespace, Oxford.

on site
A shot of Harriet Poppy Speed working at the Makespace (Oxford) site.

 

After four busy days of designing and logistical organising, it was soon time to throw myself into some making. My first step was to construct a jig for the track saw, which allowed me to use it as a crosscut saw. Avian Evans-White (https://www.instagram.com/avevanswhite/) suggested this idea to me, and with a few phone calls backwards and forwards later, the various problems that presented themselves were solved. The jig was complete!

track saw
The track saw being used in conjunction with the home made crosscut jig.

 

My first job was to crosscut the lengths of softwood into components, which would allow me to create the frames for the under-structure of the corner desk and shelving. A few sweaty hours later this was complete and I could start cutting the plywood panels to fit onto the frames. Working from the ground up is always a good rule of thumb, and kept me focused, without much panic.

timber
Softwood lengths, fresh off the crosscut saw and neatly stacked before being constructed into frames for the understructure of the project.
frames
The frames for the understructure of the desk and storage, made from softwood lengths.

 

The more of the design I got through, the more I realized the benefits of being a designer-maker. You are able to make design decisions as you build. There were several moments within this project that proved how designing on paper is never completely effective. Particularly with spatial design, as the way the environment makes you feel can never be fully understood using CAD. Ensuring there was enough space for light, and that the storage didn’t overcrowd the desk space, as well as finding neat uses for off cut pieces of Plywood were all realised whilst working on site.

onsite5
A neat use for triangular offcuts of Plywood.

 

As the space was transformed in front of my eyes, it was hard to believe that my own hands were responsible. It was only in these moments of reflection that I fully appreciated how practical I in fact am for someone of my age. It also highlighted to me how you don’t need a workbench to form the basis of your confidence. Having four trestles to hand can enable you to do just as much.

end of day one
Progress shot at the end of day one.
onsite4
Progress shot at the end of day three.
onsite2
Progress shot at the end of day four.

 

The tools and equipment I used whilst on site were:

  • Festool Track Saw + Long track
  • Festool Jig Saw
  • Festool Random Orbital Sander
  • Bosch Extraction Unit
  • G Clamps x2 big
  • F Clamps x2 small, x2 big
  • 4 Trestles
  • Cordless Drill and Battery Charger
  • Set of Lip&Spur and Regular Drill Bits
  • Driver Bits and Screwdriver
  • Engineers Square
  • Steel Ruler
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Tape Measure

 

This demonstrated to me that a fair amount could be achieved with a few pieces of kit. Granted, Festool does not come cheap, but after that initial investment and some creative ways of using your machinery, the range of projects you are able to work on is pretty extensive.

The project taught me so many lessons, not just practical ones, but also in the ideal mindset of being a maker. In an attempt to keep this brief, I have created a series of bullet points:

  • At the end of each day, it is beneficial to tidy the space and order all your tools. This maintains a clarity whilst working and means every morning you are met with a blank canvas that inspires you to get cracking. I found it was also beneficial to take a photo of your project at the end of each day, so you have a visual marker of how much progress you are making.

 

  • Having the confidence to ask for help or for a second opinion. Not all jobs and problems can be carried out alone. Inviting someone with a fresh way of thinking or perspective of the situation is likely to do more help than harm.

 

  • Knowing when to stop. This is the most important lesson I have learnt throughout the entirety of my design and making education. To ensure you don’t end every day in tears, just learn when your mind or body have decided that they have just had enough. There’s no harm in admitting that.

 

  • Your work is your work, but the outcome does not belong to you. My perception of ‘ownership’ was really tested during this project. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, as working flat out in a space for two weeks, predominantly on your own, is highly likely to result in some form of emotional attachment to either the space or the project. However upon finishing the build, I was met with the realisation that the space was not my space, and the furniture did not belong to me. What the client wishes to do to/with your work after you have finished it is 100% their choice, and in the case of collaborative projects, you have to be willing to allow others to make their mark too. This is something I am definitely being awoken to the more experiences I gain, but is something that I definitely still find testing.