Coventry Woodworks

custom furniture, interiors & automotive woodwork

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!

A Box for Holly

Our new customer (and now friend) Holly makes the most amazing wedding invitations that are more like miniature pop-up books, than conventional folded cards.  She came to us because she required a box that would house a few of her sample invitations and business cards.  She could then present the sample box to wedding planners so they could show their clients.

A Visit from the Old English Car Club

Last weekend we had a visit from the South Island branch of the Old English Car Club.  An entourage of Jaguars, Minis, MGs, Triumphs, a Rover, a Lotus and even a couple of American -made minivans met in Victoria then toured over the Malahat Drive to reach our shop-studio-garage (motor house) - home and garden in Cobble Hill.

Following the visit, the tour continued to the nearest pub where the group adjourned for well earned refreshment.  After all, touring woodworking facilities is very thirsty work.  Reports followed that a good visit was enjoyed by all and all are certainly welcome back anytime!

Marc's Steering Wheel

A really fun automotive job we did was for a gentleman in his mid-50's who works for Boeing Aircraft in Seattle.  He was in the midst of restoring a 1958 Austin-Healey Sprite, the model commonly known as the "Frogeye". 

He had owned the car since he was eighteen and had many fond memories of driving it around the pacific northwest.  The steering wheel that was on the car, while not the stock one, was the one that had come with the car when Marc bought it so he was keen to see if it could be restored. 

The biggest problem with the wheel was that the metal ring which provides the structural strength had broken and the wooden rim quickly cracked and eventually broke into bits.  The first step in restoration was to drill out the rivets which hold the aluminum spokes so the broken ring could be welded back together.  While that repair was underway a circular form was constructed, then a series of mahogany strips about 1/16" thick were carefully cut to length and added to the form, two at a time.  Once the steel ring had been repaired, the newly polished aluminum spoke section was re-riveted in place.   Eventually, 18 strips had been added around the form to build up the correct thickness of the wheel.

At this point, the assembly was removed from the form and the dried glue cleaned up.  
The wooden ring was then stood up on the table saw so it could be split in half through it's thickness.  The two halves were then routed out with a groove that would accept the steel ring.

Using nearly every small clamp in the shop, the two halves of the wooden rim were re-joined over the metal portion.  The final steps were to file the glue joint smooth then layout and add the finger indentations on the back of the wheel.  A final sanding and 6 coats of exterior urethane and the finished wheel was ready to be reunited with the car.

Nanette's Table

This table arrived at our shop with a really warped top and a request to replace it with a new top of the same diameter. We began by making a new top blank in Baltic Birch plywood, a very nice, flat and stable veneering surface. In order to disguise the plywood edge, the top was cut in the shape of an octagon, then surrounded by 8 pieces of wood so once it was cut into a circle only a solid wood edge would appear.

As the edge was made of 8 pieces, I decided to make the top from 16 pie segments so every second one would align with the edge joints. Sixteen pieces mean each angle is 22.5 degrees, so I cut a template of cardboard to mark each piece of veneer from the flitch. 

One of the great things about working with veneer is that pieces which were sliced sequentially are nearly identical as they did actually touch in the living tree. Choosing which portion of the veneer to use is the fun part using the template and a pair of mirrors which gives a very accurate preview of the final pie-segment pattern.

Once the area of veneer is chosen it's just a matter of using the template to align recognizable features in the grain with the corners of the template. Each one is then marked with a sharp pencil then a straight- edge and veneer saw are used to accurately cut the 16 (hopefully) identical triangles.

The joining process begins by planeing the edges to obtain a good glue joint, then taping them together in pairs.  Piece #1 is joined to #2, piece #3 to #4, and so on. Once each joint is fully taped the pattern is bent backwards on itself and a tiny dab of glue is used to the joint line. Once the glue is cured all of the tape comes off and the two pieces are permanently connected and every bit as strong as a single piece of veneer.

With 8 pairs joined together, the pieces are planed again and joined to form the quarters.   With the quarters complete they are checked to confirm a 90 degree angle.  ( I now know why hockey teams so often say: "Things were going great until we hit the quarter-finals.")  A few minor adjustments and the quarters were joined into the two halves, which were then adjusted and the final circle was taped and glued.

The trick used to make sure the veneer segments were centered on the plywood substrate was to place a tiny finishing nail in the centre of the plywood circle which was just allowed to poke through the point where all of the veneer segments met.

Once the veneers were pressed onto the circle and trimmed, a few coats of urethane were applied and the table was ready to head home.