‘Starting with the tree, he searches for character hewn by the weather and formed from the local landscape. Minerals drawn up by roots deep within Highland soil colour the timber in unique ways as it grows slowly, sometimes for generations, often only to be revealed when the wood is finally worked. Far removed from the shelter and straight lines of mono forestry, these trees also twist and bend as they battle over a lifetime with the forces of nature.'
Swipe or click on any image below to shop or see more about woodwork and furniture by Alasdair Munro currently available at Alchemist Gallery.
Since retirement as a surgeon, Alasdair Munro has been enjoying working with wood for the past 15 years. His aim is to create beautiful, thoughtfully designed and carefully crafted items from timber, in particular, Highland grown hardwoods
We are delighted to present a range of Alasdair’s furniture and other interesting pieces. His work can be seen, bought and commissioned from the Gallery.
Alasdair began collecting timbers in 2005. Most of it comes from trees acquired from the Black Isle, Easter Ross and the Inverness areas. These have been milled on site by a contractor using a mobile bandsaw and transported to a place in his native Black Isle (close to where his ancestors used to operate a meal mill) and air dried on platforms over several years to a moisture content of 15-18%.
The drying process is completed in a solar kiln which he helped to build, based at Craggach woods near Inverness. Tucked away in a native woodland, this building is made from Douglas fir and larch cladding from Craggach. Solar drying achieves a moisture content of 6-10% throughout the timber, ensuring the product does not split or warp, particularly in a centrally heated home.
Returning to his workshop in Inverness, Alasdair begins work on the end product. He takes pleasure from creating designs with different local timbers in juxtaposition, to produce unusual and unique effects. He feels that it is not widely appreciated that Highland hardwoods can produce spectacularly beautiful and characterful pieces of furniture although it may take more effort and creativity than imported knot free timbers. He also creates pieces requiring both carpentry and upholstery skills; crafting footstools and other pieces, taking care to match colours in the wood to the fabric, creating a final harmonious whole.
Without having had a career as a surgeon , Alasdair believes he would not be working with wood now. He cites transferrable skills between surgery and woodworking; the manual dexterity and attention to detail required in both disciplines; in addition, excellent spatial awareness and 3 dimensional perception are hugely advantageous for operating as well as woodworking.
Knowledge of human anatomy is useful when constructing chairs and breakfast bar stools! Ensuring optimum functionality is an essential aspect of creating bespoke furniture.
Alasdair enjoys the collaborative aspect of working with clients to design furniture specifically made for their needs. Natural features such as the interface between heartwood and sapwood and live edges can be used to add interest where these enhance the appearance of the final piece. Defects in timber can sometimes be usefully incorporated so long as the structural integrity of the furniture is not compromised.