Rob Sharp, the founder of ‘One Off Oak’ acquired a piece of 400 year old English Oak and after a year of indecision as to what to do with the piece, he decided to make a simple bench from this wonderfully historic wood.
He spent the best part of a week hand chiseling the mortises and hand cutting the tenons which would form the structural integrity of his first piece of oak furniture.
There was no particular design or plan for the piece, rather Rob simply let the wood dictate the form it would take. No metal fixings or glue were used in the finished piece, just simple, old fashioned ‘wedged tenons’. The piece was hand-sanded to a smooth finish and finally coated with Bee’s wax.
A few weeks later, Rob heard about a local fair to be held in his village in the spring.
Rob decided to book a stall where he would display his bench and hopefully take orders for commissioned pieces of furniture. There was one slight issue – the organisers required ‘affordably priced’ goods to be on sale so obviously just having one bench on display that wouldn’t actually be for sale would seem a bit strange.
To solve this problem, Rob made some chopping and cheese boards. The oak he used had some very interesting edges which clearly showed how branches once grew out of the tree.
Rob was fascinated by this and rather than removing the edges, decided to make a feature of them.
The first item to be made was a chopping board with a lovely burr on one side. Once finished with several coats of ‘Tung’ oil, Rob knew he had created an object of beauty which would appeal to people wishing to own a unique item that would grace any kitchen or dining table & create a talking point during dinner parties.
Rob furiously made more boards of varying sizes, some with draining grooves for meat juices and others with ‘Robert Welch’ cheese knifes embedded into them in preparation for the rapidly approaching fair.
The hard work and late nights hand-shaping and sanding the wood paid off. The fair was a great success and led to several commissions for bespoke items for local homes.
Within a few weeks, Rob started to supply some local high-end kitchen shops and restaurants in the North London area as well as receiving commissions for bespoke boards via word of mouth.
His food boards have been sent as far afield as New Zealand and are proving popular presents for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and christmas presents.
Rob also sells his items at local farmers markets which has led to varied commissions such as a base for a bronze casting, a console table and an outside bench for a storm porch.
All items are designed, made and photographed by Rob. He strongly believes the only way the highest quality can be achieved it to have complete control of the whole process – from negotiating the purchase of the next batch of wood, buying the necessary tools, site visits to clients homes to discuss their requirements to applying the final finish to each piece.