The 2019 Tormek Scholarship Award has been presented to Rachel Elston. Rachel’s winning piece is a stylish entryway table, which she has named ‘JOVE’. The piece provides both functionality and elegance, and has won Rachel a complete Tormek sharpening station, which will no doubt prove most useful as she pursues her career. 

Rachel was originally working in the communications sector, and her only woodworking experience was gained from making pieces for her flat. However, it was this that encouraged Rachel to take a leap of faith to follow her passion and re-train as a fine woodworker.

It was during her study time in East London that Rachel first came across Tormek. She explains: “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 firmly believes that sharp tools are essential for the creation of beautifully cut joinery, producing crisp and accurate cuts, saving time and improving the quality of a maker’s work.

‘JOVE’ is inspired by Scandinavian design and small living space. “The simplicity and functionality of Scandinavian designs always catch my eye. I particularly like the warm natural tones that come with the designs from that area,” says Rachel.

Material is also an important factor for Rachel. She used American red oak and American maple to create ‘JOVE’, both of which were provided by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) with whom she collaborated on this project.  Never having 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 a Scandinavian inspired piece. The lower shelf of ‘JOVE’ provides storage for shoes and has been delicately encased in woven strips of American maple. 

For the immediate future, Rachel will continue her furniture making journey in North Wales as a cabinetmaker for Silverlining Furniture, under the expert guidance of the furniture makers there. Although, in the long term, she hopes to design and make her own pieces.

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