Explore the growing popularity of woodworking with these creative craftsmen
Woodworkers. Woodcrafters. Makers of wood. Or in old-fashioned terms, carpenters. In the spirit of the maker culture, a new generation of woodworkers are taking up the chisel and saws as a livelihood. Woodworking workshops and studios are mushrooming in the Klang Valley as young craftspeople are discovering a love of the material to express their creativity while producing gorgeous furniture.
It’s down to creative individuals like Zulkefli Ali and Muhammad Khairul Ali, the two brothers who run ZVW+4inci3hun. The siblings are also responsible for The Garage in Ulu Kelang. The relatively young team started in 2012, and in that short timespan, acquired a reputation for solidly crafted wood furniture.
The invading rustic style for cafés and shops plus the growing popularity of festivals are also helping to fuel the fire for these woodworkers. A festival was how Lisha Sahar got her start in the woodworking business. Together with her husband, the amateur woodworkers had cobbled together a few pieces of wood furniture and signages for their food stall at a bazaar. It wasn't long before customers were enquiring about custom-made pieces.
Another self-taught woodworker (Youtube is the new college), Lisha and her husband make bespoke pieces according to client specifications. They use a lot of reclaimed pine in their work, which is lighter and easier to work with, but produces its own challenges, says Lisha. The wood can warp over time, especially with the country's high humidity, and she has had to adapt to these properties.
Using recycled or reclaimed material is part of the package for these new breed of woodworkers. Harith Ridzuan, also known as Harith Green Carpenter (HGC), aims to spearhead the way in this department. Ideally, he would use reclaimed pallets and metal in his work, but when new material is requested, he will suggest the use of Malaysian-grown and made bamboo planks. Currently, most bamboo planks come from China and Taiwan.
A serious approach to woodworks is also the foundation for Daniel Salehuddin and Khairul Asyraf, the two craftspeople who form Fine Grit Studio. An industrial design graduate, Daniel has been making things with his father ever since he was a child.
Working with wood was a natural progression of his early crafting years but it wasn't until a commission by local artist Sharon Chin that he took woodworking as a livelihood seriously and formed Dan Saleh Custom Woodcrafts. In 2014, he joined forces with school friend and fellow woodworker, Khairul, who had just graduated with a mechanical engineering degree.
Fine Grit Studio's most challenging project to date was a massive 12-feet-by-6-feet meeting table which took Daniel and Khairul four weeks to complete. The two are planning to expand their space and machines to produce faster and more efficiently. They also plan to collaborate with other crafters to produce original designs with the intention of marketing them worldwide.
In the spirit of passing it on, they hold woodworking classes at their studio in Bangi, Selangor. For those with a flicker of desire for working with wood, it's a good way to start.