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Scholarship Award 2019: Rachel Elston

The Tormek Scholarship Award 2019 in the UK has been awarded to Rachel Elston. Rachel has created a beautiful entryway table “JOVE” providing both functionality and elegance. The design won Rachel a complete Tormek Wet Sharpening System - which will prove most useful as she continues her career.

Rachel was originally working within communications, and only had experience within woodworking from making some pieces for her own flat. It was this that sparked Rachel into taking a leap of faith, following her passion and re-training as a Fine Woodworker. It was during her time of study in East London that Rachel first came across Tormek.

"We spent the first term of the two-year course learning how to use and maintain our hand tools to a high standard. This, of course, required good sharpening skills. To achieve this, the college provided Tormek kits for the students to learn and practice on”.

Rachel strongly believes that sharp tools are essential to the creation of beautifully cut joinery, allowing you to produce crisp and accurate cuts, saving time and improving quality of work.

'JOVE' - The winning piece

“JOVE”, Rachel's winning piece is inspired by Scandinavian design and small space living. “The simplicity and functionality of Scandinavian designs always catches my eye. I particularly like the warm natural tones that come with the designs from that area”. The entry table showcases a transition between our homes and the world outside.

The material has always been an important factor for Rachel when it comes to her making.

"I never fully appreciated the importance of working with and surrounding myself by natural things, until I started working with wood. The entire process of picking the timber and designing a piece based around the characteristics of that wood is a wonderful thing".

American red oak and American maple

Therefore, the choices that Rachel made for the material of her winning piece were vital. The lower shelves provide storage for shoes and have been delicately encased in woven strips of American maple.

The maple is both decorative and functional, protecting the walls from contact with the shoes and also hiding them from view. Twisted hand-cut mortise and tenon joints connect the shelves to the tall legs. The resulting angle of which produces the tapered profile. On top, at a height of 1.2m, sits an intricately carved out dish to house keys and coins.

The timber that Rachel used to create “JOVE” was American red oak and American maple. Both of which were provided by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) with whom she collaborated on this project.

Having never worked with red oak before, Rachel was pleasantly surprised by how similar it was to European oak, but with added tones of red and orange running through it. Making it the perfect fit for her Scandinavian inspired piece.

What's next for Rachel?

Rachel will now continue her furniture making journey in North Wales as a Cabinet Maker for Silverlining Furniture.

"In the immediate future, I aim to continue developing my making skills under the guidance of the expert makers there and then ultimately I hope to one day design and make my own pieces. My priorities will include working with solid timber and making pieces that will out-live their owners".

We can’t wait to see more of Rachel’s projects and wish her every success for the future!