Liam Harris, a carpenter of 15 years from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, is the passionate artisan behind Woodchuck Furniture. Brought up in an artistic household, Liam constructs beautiful and practical pieces of furniture; raw and rustic in form as mother nature intended. James had a quick chat with the family man to unearth his story and discuss the Red Hill based business.
Nestled away in the scrub off Western Port Bay, Liam Harris taps away at projects under the the title; Woodchuck Furniture. A carpenter by trade, his eco-friendly products strike the perfect balance between design and engineering, often made with a dual purpose to stand out from the crowd. Having been in awe of the products on his Handkrafted profile, I set out to discover more about the inspiring craftsman.
Not long after completing school, Liam found himself in a carpentry apprenticeship, where he took an instant liking to furniture making. ‘I started building furniture from recycled materials on literally day one of my apprenticeship,’ he told me. ‘I’d salvage a few different jobs here and there and did a lot of experimenting in my spare time. My mother was an amazing painter, so my creative upbringing sort of naturally progressed into a fixation with woodwork. What was once a hobby evolved into a business venture and here I am now.’
Pinpointing the anointed birth of Woodchuck, Liam recalls the Christmas season of 2012 where he set out to craft a day bed for his wife Emily, who now runs their gallery WoodenFern in the gorgeous wine region. ‘I made Emily this day bed out of discarded materials that were scattered around our property. Bits of old pipe, some left over pool lining and stuff like that. The final product was pretty cool and I stopped and thought to myself; “Hang on. I’m onto something here,” and launched things from there,’ Liam went on.
Two years on, Liam’s creations are selling like hot cakes (Now to fill up my piggy bank and sprinkle my home with the delectable decor the minute I outgrow the days of student living).
With a keen eye for design, Liam builds unique and functional furniture using clean lines to bring a touch of class to their rustic form. ‘I really try to express my inner creativity through what I am doing, aiming to make items that are like no one else’s. As a kid I dreamed of being an architect, so I like to engineer things that are structurally interesting and built to last,’ he shared. Not to mention Woodchuck’s constantly changing timber stock makes for a unique and evolving furniture portfolio.
“I collect a lot of discarded materials and it’s nice to bring them to life again through the design and creation of furniture.”
On top of his bespoke builds, Liam offers a specialised service which includes onsite construction and a BYO timber service where he fashions pieces for clients with materials that may hold a special place in their heart. ‘People are starting to realise the value of old timber and commissioning custom furniture with their own wood. I am more than happy to cater to this trend, working closely with my clients to create furniture that is sentimental and specific to their needs,’ Liam explained. ‘Consumerism has gotten out of hand so it’s refreshing to see people appreciate goods that are durable and resourceful.’
‘Handkrafted I suppose is the answer to this atmosphere,’ he continued. ‘It’s a great platform for buyers and also makers to get in touch with local businesses as opposed to big multi-nationals. I’ve been on board since Fred launched Handkrafted and it’s been awesome. It’s a pretty inspirational and supportive little setting so I’d definitely recommend it to both parties.’
“Being creative is fantastic but you still have to run a business. It’s a big juggling act and my advice would be to stay true to your design. Find your niche in the market and just run with it.”
So what’s next for Woodchuck Furniture? I prompted. ‘I’m going to keep it fairly low key,’ Liam expressed. ‘I’m enjoying making things that people can pick up in a shop and just walk out with, like bootholders, chopping boards and even planters, to keep things ticking along at the gallery. I will do a bit more of that, experiment with a few new materials and continue to make custom furniture with my own personal stamp. At the end of the day, I just want to be able to make individual pieces that people can enjoy for generations.’
Photos By WoodenFern Gallery.
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