WORKSHOP AND PHILOSOPHY

Woods

All of the instruments are made using historically appropriate materials.  For almost all of the instruments this means European woods – generally hardwoods such as oak, walnut, maple or cherry for the cases, though some instruments will use deal, and soundboards of European spruce or cypress.  Other woods found in the instruments might include beech, pear, boxwood, poplar, holly and lime according to the model.  Stocks of all of these woods are kept for years before being used.  The occasional non-European woods include red cedar (pencil cedar) which is found as an interior veneer in some early English instruments (having been brought back in ships from Virginia, probably as ballast) and ebony.  Ebony is the only tropical wood that is used in the instruments.
It is possible to have some wood substitution if it is historically appropriate.  For example, an instrument which had a walnut case could be made with an oak or cherry case if it is plausible that the original maker would have agreed to such a request.

Keyboards

The keyboards follow the design of the original in all musical respects.  To this end the materials used follow the original, as do the balance points, action depth, key guiding method and so on.  There is little point having a reproduction of an instrument which compromises on the action.  The only places where some alteration may be wanted, or even necessary, are the touchplate materials and/or keyguide material which are occasionally illegal to use (such as ivory or tortoiseshell). In these instances substitutes must be used, and the various choices can be discussed. 

Decoration

The instruments are generally decorated in the same style as the original, and are offered that way as standard.  It is possible to vary the decoration, usually in the form of lid or soundboard paintings or chinoiserie decoration.  The stands are also built in the style of furniture of the period, and they are described in the section on each instrument, or else in the price list section.
There is a strong preference for finishing instruments as the original so that, in most cases, hardwood cases are left as natural wood, whereas deal cases are painted or veneered.  On natural casework the finish is oil varnish which is then wax polished.  Oak is generally “fumed” before the finish is applied.  This involves placing the instrument in a tent which is filled with concentrated ammonia for some time, then the instrument is removed and oiled.  This has the effect of darkening the wood to a warm brown colour.  Painted cases use Farrow and Ball oil paints as standard, unless a particular different colour is requested – if there is some uncertainty of the preferred colour then sample cards can be sent.