Coventry Woodworks

custom furniture, interiors & automotive woodwork

Eleven Drawer Art Deco Dresser for Mary

This project took both of us (Karen & Cam) several months to complete. It was a once-in-a-lifetime commission, as our client, Mary, was wonderful to work with. She very much understood what she wanted in her completed dresser and cheerfully worked hard with us to bring her vision to life.

The completed project has 6 drawers for clothing and 5 velvet-lined ones for jewelry, the centre top one with a secret hidden lock. All of the drawer slides are full-extension all wood slides which Karen has perfected after writing an article about them for Fine Woodworking Magazine in issue # 117 (March-April 1996) over twenty years ago.

The wood is wavy Western Maple we acquired from our friends Persjis, Emilia and Barb Erglis at Clearwater Wood Industries in Victoria. Karen completed the black and white marquetry in the style of Art Deco master, J.E.Ruhlmann using black-dyed Swiss Pear and Bleached white Mahogany. The spherical handle pulls and decorative spheres are made of “vegetable ivory” tagua nuts from Equador.


We both loved working with Mary on this project and think the fitting summary is the unsolicited testimonial she wrote for us after we delivered it:

From start to finish the custom dresser project was a joy.  At our first meeting, Cam and Karen won my confidence as clearly accomplished, knowledgeable and professional.  From there we moved into concept drawings and research, where they showed enormous appreciation for both the artistic side as well as the challenges of execution.  Many a sample was done to hone the effect, offering very slight differences to suit my taste.  There was creative craftsmanship by Karen to handcraft a secret lock, create full-extension, all wood drawer slides and execute the very fine marquetry/inlay for the piece de resistance top surface, to mention a few.  Cam was both artist and fine furniture maker, from the rendering of the surface art, to managing the dimensions of curves, quality of material, assembly, veneering …too much to capture!  The fine finish was a testament to pursuit of excellence.  When the piece was installed, Cam sent a polishing rag scooting the length of the piece. 


Both team members listened carefully to my criteria, pondering all possible adjustments to the plan without compromise to quality.  Both Cam and Karen are excellent communicators, with weekly updates, and quick resolution over any points needing clarity.  Billing, project progress and communications were orderly.


Coventry Woodworks are well worth their rate, I gladly recommend them.

Quite the team.

"Making It" a 30 year Celebration of Camosun College's Fine Furniture Program

Way back in 1987, I was lucky enough to be hired by Camosun College to start and run a Fine Furniture Program.  I remember thinking on my first day that I was completely faking it and would likely be caught and sent home by lunch time, but the first day actually went rather well and I wound up staying on for 30 more years. 

In the year 2000, I accepted a 1/2 time job in administration, which allowed a second instructor, Ken Guenter, to join me and together we taught the program for the next 17 years.   Along the way we met some great (and very talented) folks so as a retirement project together, we decided to have a celebration exhibition featuring some of our many talented grads.


The exhibition is now up and running and will continue through September 22nd.  The Legacy Gallery is located at the corner of Yates & Broad Streets in Downtown Victoria and is open 10am to 5pm Wednesday through Saturday with a late opening to 8pm on Thursdays.

Karen has a chair in the exhibition made of Sapele (a species of African Mahogany) with figured Western Maple on the back splat and a leather upholstered seat

I (Cam) took a little less conventional approach and designed a garden chair that could easily be moved around the lawn.  It's name is "I Like my Morning Coffee in the Sun  and my Afternoon Tea in the Shade".  It was huge fun integrating the bicycle parts into the whole structure in a finished that would be both comfortable to sit in, but would also function like a wheelbarrow.

So, yes, I (Cam) got to have the image of my chair on the poster but only because it was the only piece finished and photographed when the deadline for the poster design arrived...

A Pair of Settees for Jenny & Simon

It seems like we've done quite a few pieces this past year in the Arts & Crafts style.  This pair of settees is a great example. Really straightforward linear design lines with nice wide arms (suitably sized for a beer & grilled cheese) and grandchild-proof finish with hard wearing leather cushions.

Although these settees were straightforward and really a pleasure to build, they are an exercise in repetitive machine woodworking.  Considering that each one has 67 spindles which are joined to their upper and lower rails by a mortise and tenon joint there were 268 mortise holes to be bored and cleaned out and since each tenon requires 4 cuts, a total of 1072 passes over the table saw - phew...

A Podium for Crofton House

We just completed and delivered our latest project - a speaking podium for Crofton House Girls school in Vancouver.  The job was sent our way by our friends and customers, Richard and Christine of Shick, Shiner & Associates who oversaw the renovation of the auditorium at the school.  The podium had to be made to roll on and off stage, have a built-in LED lighting strip on a dimmer switch, and house a "Crestron" touch screen.  The finish also had to match the millwork in the auditorium, so we spent a few hours of experimentation to get the colour just right.  All in all a  really challenging but fun job.

One Tree II: Walnut

Karen and Cam are proud to be associated with a second One Tree Exhibition opening in just a few days. 

Cam built a chest and matching mirror using 314 walnut tiles that highlight the contrast between the dark brown wood that everyone thinks of when they picture the colour walnut and the light coloured sapwood that grows near the outside of the tree.

Karen has done a Laptop Desk and matching Chair.  The desk top and chair seat are both covered with identical leather.  The desk drawers pull out on double-dovetail slides which allow them to extend fully and provide storage for even the largest laptop computer.  Another cool feature is the power bar which has 2 110 volt outlet plugs as well as 2 USB charging ports.  It is accessed by pushing a walnut shell on the front panel which activates a rod beneath the top and releases a spring-loaded catch to reveal the electrical panel.


For more information on the One Tree history and exhibition have a look at this link:

CBC Radio Interview with Sheryl MacKay on NXNW

On Saturday, November 4th we were interviewed by Sheryl MacKay, the host of North by Northwest, a CBC radio show that features Artists, Musicians and Craftspeople from all over British Columbia.   The Interview coincided with the Fall Studio Tour of the Cowichan Valley Artisan's group we belong to.  The coverage made for an incredibly busy and successful weekend, with 56 people through on Saturday and a record 79 through on Sunday.

You can listen to the interview by clicking on the link below:


Richard Owen installs an Austin Healey Dashboard for Don

Our friend, Richard Owen of Owen Automotive in Sidney has a great Youtube video he's done on the installation of a dashboard we restored recently.  We always get the dashboards removed from the car with all of the gauges and switches removed so it's easy to forget the work that goes into the process before and after we do our work.   Well done, Richard & Don!

Beds for J. & J.

A couple of very dedicated grandparents approached us last spring about constructing a couple of beds in their spare bedroom that would be a fun bedroom for their visiting grandchildren, J.&J.

The design was to be of a modern flavour incorporating both light coloured local wood (western maple) and brushed stainless steel.  The platform bed is anchored to the wall along with the metal uprights and step structure.  The trundle bed below is on large industrial casters, so it slides out.  Both beds have reading lights wired into the existing wall and overall lighting for the lower bunk is incorporated into the platform of the upper bunk.

Gallery Show at Portals in Duncan

We have now loaded our furniture bits into Portals Gallery in the Performing Arts Centre in Duncan for the next few weeks.  We're there until March 23 - hope you get a chance to see everything we've installed; from a the brand new card table Karen just finished building, to an outdoor bench, some musical instruments, little car boxes and furniture for every room in the house.

So please come see what we ....saw   - OK, OK, bad pun.

Coventry on YouTube

A few weeks ago, I ran into my old woodworking friend Colin Knecht at, of all places, the Home Depot parking lot, in Duncan and between the two of us we arranged for him to come over for a visit and see the our shop.  His website: is really impressive and we were very glad to be made a part of it!  Check out the video below!