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Crafted in Cornwall

With over 40 years of experience in creating high-quality bespoke fitted and free-standing furniture the Cornish Cabinet and Joinery Company have a bright future ahead. Here’s why.


Resisting the urge to conduct research, prior to sending out questions to elicit answers to form the basis for an editorial piece is a tough one. I usually don’t. However, when asked to write an article about the Cornish Cabinet and Joinery Company, the very name suggested that I let William Draycott have full rein. If he and his company were true to the idea that it conjured up in my head then the truth would out. Risky but sometimes gut instinct has to prevail. I’m so glad that I held back!


What struck me about William’s answers to my questions was a genuine modesty and joy in what he and his company do. None of the usual “we’re passionate about this” or “we can cater for your every need”. I think what shone through was honesty and integrity. The following, in a very slightly tweaked form, for Drift Abode’s editorial purposes, are William’s responses.



Can you describe the history and founding story of your company? What inspired you to start the business?

  

We set out to create really beautiful furniture using a combination of traditional woodworking and modern fabrication techniques. We believe that tradition and the skills that are passed down from generation to generation are incredibly important and we are proud to be keeping that alive. Cornwall is lacking in those skills. There are very few companies that are manufacturing anything in Cornwall, despite it being such an inspirational place, motivating artists, writers and artisans. We also love the fact that our business is intertwined with a lasting legacy of Victorian engineering, in that our workshop is an historic building – the St Blazey Roundhouse designed by Sir Samuel Morton Peto.


What sets your company apart from other cabinet and joinery businesses in terms of craftsmanship and design philosophy?


As mentioned above we combine traditional techniques with the modern. We have state-of-the-art-modern machinery such as a CNC table saw and new spindle moulder (an old style of machine but newly built), but we also use machinery that was built before the 1950’s, such as our Wadkin Spindle moulder, disk sander, bobbin sander and lathe.


We tend to get very hands-on within the design process. We love clients who really want to know all of the details. Because we craft every project to order, nothing is off the shelf, which gives us great flexibility when designing our furniture.


We are incredibly focused on character. Things with character have life and therefore have a story to tell. We don’t sell doors and cabinets that have come off a CNC production line somewhere halfway across the globe. Our pieces are hand-made by real people in Cornwall.


How do you ensure the highest quality in your materials and workmanship for each project you undertake?


We source the majority of our materials, from board and timber through to accessories, such as handles and hinges, from the UK. A good example is Armac Martin in Birmingham who have been creating design-led brass hardware since 1929. However, we do have to go across the Channel sometimes for certain components that aren’t available here, for things such as soft-close furniture hinges and runners. However, we’re always on the lookout for UK manufacturers who we can purchase from.


We’ve also just invested in a few new machines, one of which is going to increase, accuracy and the squareness of the doors. We already have a machine which ensures squareness of the cabinets so this addition will complement it perfectly. This means that kitchen units, base units, packs of draws etc. can be glued and set in a carcass press and sent out as a complete item. Larger pieces, ones that have to go up narrow stairways rely upon a cam and dowel system but on the whole we complete every free-standing item in-house. It means that everything is rigid, dead square and very strong.


We do not buy anything from far eastern mass producers. We are very careful when buying anything to look for the highest quality coupled with values that correlate with our own. 



Can you walk us through your creative process, from initial client consultation to the final installation?


We would usually start with a phone consultation to find out a little about the customer’s needs and wants. We also like to find out information such as the age of the property. We would then go out and conduct a survey and take some samples if the customer has not already been in to see us. Then we produce CAD drawings and work with the client to refine the design ensuring it meets their needs before producing a quotation. Usually, a design goes through at least 3 iterations before we get to the final design that can be signed-off.


As we offer an unlimited paint colour selection, we often guide customers on what colour pairings work. We’ve had a lot of clients who hand over creative control entirely, once we have got a flavour of their tastes and likes.


What are some of the most challenging and rewarding projects you’ve completed, and what made them stand out?


We produced a custom door style which we have added to our range for John from Green & Rock builders who built the houses in Golant at The Cormorant. This was a fun door which we have loved playing with.


How do you incorporate sustainability and eco-friendly practices into your work?


We reuse and recycle all of our off-cut materials. We chomp them and turn the remains into sawdust briquettes. Some of which have been used to supply mushroom farms.

Can you tell us about any trends in cabinet and joinery design that you find particularly exciting or innovative?


Yellow! Nobody knows this yet but yellow is the next big colour, which is absolutely one of my favourites. We have seen a huge increase in the number of people being bold with colour, so keep an eye on what’s appearing out there. I think we may also see a return of features such as reeded glass* which can bring character to your furniture. 


Boot rooms are also becoming more and more popular. This opens up avenues in upholstery which makes for more interesting pieces of furniture that are the result of two sets of skills.


* Also referred to as fluted or ribbed, it is a patterned decorative type of glass. Light can pass through it but is redirected, meaning it is not possible to see exactly what is on the other side, providing an element of privacy and mystery. Think 1950’s black and white private detective movies.



How do you balance traditional craftsmanship with modern technology in your projects?


Anywhere in which absolute accuracy is paramount, we use CNC technology to ensure perfection – such as cabinet drilling. Doing drilling like this with jigs is fraught with risks of imperfection and is time consuming. It’s common sense really. We also use a wood welder to aid our glue going off. This is super sci-fi stuff!

What advice would you give to clients looking to commission custom cabinets or joinery for the first time?


Have fun, be creative, don’t play it safe because of what other people might think. Don’t get custom furniture that’s boring just to make your house more sellable. Make it your own because you love it.


What future plans or developments do you have for your company, and how do you envisage the business evolving over the next few years?


We will be opening a showroom and a new workshop in the Winter. The former will showcase the highest quality of fitted furniture that we have to offer, while the new workshop will be a finishing area with the existing workspace becoming solely a machine shop. As a consequence, we’ll be taking on new staff. 


Additionally, we are collaborating with other local makers, artists and craftspeople to curate a showroom that not only showcases our work but is also dressed with other Cornish products. We really want to push local skills and ensure that Cornwall becomes a sort of hub for innovation and sustainable employment in craft-based activities.


I think you can see, from William’s answers, why the Cornish Cabinet and Joinery Company is set to be carving a path to a prosperous future.


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