From the Vault: Interview with David Suters Timbercraftsman
FOCUS MAGAZINE, MID NORTH COAST, AUGUST 2006
Over the past 17 years local timber craftsman David Suters has handcrafted unique solid timber furniture for hundreds of clients. David’s clients hold him in high regard due to his design skills and knowledge of Australian hardwoods.
How did you get started in woodwork?
I worked locally in the trade with Francis Furniture for around 16 years. I started to taper my weeks off with them and started doing more work for myself at home.
It was more of a lifestyle change for me to be able to work from home. It also gave me a chance to broaden my design range.
Tell us about what sets you apart from other timber craftsmen?
My design skill. A lot of the time I will locate a piece of timber and let it dictate to me what I turn it into. It depends on the characteristics of the timber and what other mediums I use with it. As each piece is as individual as the next, it adds a lot of variety to my work.
Your favourite timber to work with?
I enjoy working with Australian hardwood, Tasmanian Blackwood and also Blue Gum, all of which are nice timbers; Red Mahogany and River Red Gum also works well. The texture, grain, colour and durability make them all unique and that is what is appealing to me – obviously availability play a part too.
What are some of the bigger projects you have completed?
I have done a few wall units, a display unit and one four metre boardroom desk out of locally sourced Blue Gum.
I have also completed some custom kitchen units and bench tops out of natural timber with natural edges where the client wanted to get away from laminated timber bench tops.
It is very individual and up to the client, but commissioned works after allow me to be more artistic.
How long does each job take?
It can really vary and will depend on the size and complexity of the piece. A commission job will take longer, and sometimes I will start them straight away and then put them aside if I am not happy with its direction – that is if the client is not in a hurry.
Sometimes I will come back to it later and change some of the design elements. Generally the timeframe is around four weeks, again depending on the piece an its complexity.
I source them from all regions in Australia. Sometimes clients will request a certain timber, which I will source for them to meet their needs and the design of the special piece.
Do you have a favourite piece?
Probably the desk I created. It is unique in its design in that the handles are veneered with actual leaves.
Another nice piece is the dining table I created from one big slab of 300-year-old River Red Gum. It has inlays in the top of it as well.
I have made a feature of the slabs, which again dictated to me what I was going to build out of them. I also incorporated some salvaged timber, Brushbox, from which I carved the drawers. I sourced these from the Byabara area after they were destined for firewood.
How do you do inlays and what type are they?
They are recessed into the top of the slab. We use a secondary timber inlay as a feature. Sometimes we use it in the base as well as the top of the table just to carry the theme through.
How would you describe your style of works?
It is artistic contemporary. The attention to detail is followed right through from designing the job to completion and delivery.
What is the major influence for design?
The timber is the biggest influence and it always depends on the characteristics of the timbers.
Favourite thing about your trade?
Just being able to create something different every time. Most of my works are one-off pieces, which are better than creating the same thing over and over again. It keeps it interesting for me. Each piece is different from the last so it is better than doing ten of the same thing.
The last piece I designed was made with two natural edge slabs of timber. I have built the framework coming out of the piece so it looks like the cabinets are coming out of the natural product.
A lot of time a client will come to me with an idea of what piece of furniture they have a special need for – which we will then work on together.
Thanks for your time David.