Offcut screen

Sean Feeney makes a folding screen in cocobolo and ash

• SEAN FEENEY trained at Rycotewood College from 1974 to '76. He worked as a pattern maker in industrial design before setting up Sean Feeney Furniture in '79. His designs are produced with the help of two assistants and three dogs in the wilds of Warwickshire

THIS SCREEN EVOLVED from my resolution to utilise several parcels of off-cuts and left-over boards that I had from a number of previous commissions. The reason was twofold: to create the ever-needed space in our timber sheds, and to ease my conscience by using these valuable natural resources.


I found myself left with a collection of short sappy lengths, slab cut tops of logs, and split and shook centre boards of cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa) - which is both expensive and rare.

These were the left-overs from two logs of about 45 cubic feet lying in stick, and home to all and sundry of the insect world in a corner of my shed since the completion of a 16 foot long table and dining-room suite that I made in 1986.

From a more recent commission, were several short lengths and ends of boards of English ash (Fraxinus spp), and a parcel of 50mm (2in) wide 2.8mm (Kin) constructional veneers, which had been unused in the lamination and construction of eight dining room chairs.

The question was, how could all these bits and pieces be put to the best use?


I had had the design of the screen in the back of my mind for some time, thinking that it would compliment the bedroom furniture which we were involved in designing and making in sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) and ash (Frazinus spp). I decided that the combination of ash and cocobolo would harmonise with the contrasting colours of the existing pieces.

The screen

All the jointing involved within the three frames is mortice and tenon, with the exception of the top rails which are haunched, enabling the corner stile detail to be removed.

The stiles have 8 by 2mm (V\& by Vii,in) channels to house the ash slats - which is achieved by using a scoring blade on a circular saw to prevent unnecessary wastage of 2mm router cutters!


The top and bottom rails have a concave-shape detail between the muntins, or vertical divisions, which is bandsawn to remove the stock and internally radiused, using a bobbin sander.

The inlay details of mother of pearl are 10mm (Kin) in diameter and approximately 3mm (Kin) thick, and

RIGHT! Detail of woven slats

are glued with epoxy resin, filled and sanded flush.


The laminated detail supporting the solid shaped top rail is constructed from 1mm (Vitin) thick cocobolo lamins, circular sawn and wide belt sanded to thickness - and subsequently bent in their middle on a double bass bending iron, prior to gluing around a male mould, using epoxy resin.


All three frames are dry assembled and hinged together to ease the otherwise difficult task of accurate alignment.

The components are then polished, using French polish throughout and left to harden for two weeks.

The frames are glued together initially along their length, sashed cramped top to bottom, then across the width, finally adding the bent laminated top sectipn.


Having only several square metres of 50mm (2in) wide 2.8mm (Kin) thick constructional veneer, I made the shortfall up by using off-cuts of ash boards which were sawn into 3mm (Kin) strips. These, together with the veneer were thicknessed on a wide belt sander to a finish of 1,8mm (Mi, in), cross-cut to the length required to fit within the framework.

I then polished both faces using a 50% sheen waterborne clear lacquer.

"1 decided that the combination of ash and cocobolo would harmonise with the contrasting colours of the existing pieces"

Quarter sawn | ash slats



Loose tongue

Haunched tenon -


After several days, the slats were woven within the framework, occasionally using a bending iron to facilitate the insertion within a 2mm ('Ain) channel in the frame stiles.

The frames are re-hinged back together and the cocobolo surfaces are burnished.


I exhibited the screen at the Celebration of Craftsmanship exhibition at Cheltenham in 1997 and was awarded a Guild Mark from the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers for excellence of craftsmanship and design - a successful conclusion to a pile of off-cuts! Sean Feeney also won first prize in the professional category of the 1997 F&C competition at Axminster for this spendid piece!

Mother of pearl inlay


"I made the shortfall up by using off-cuts of ash boards which were sawn into 3mm strips"

Solid top rail

Channel for slats <

Laminated Cocobolo

Quarter sawn | ash slats


Mike Cowie tries to improve on his original design for an Arts and Crafts-style writing desk

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