Chippendale School Student Dreams of Boat Building

This blog is by Fergus McCoss who was a deckhand on super yachts but his long term plan is becoming a woodworker. After graduating from the Chippendale School of Furniture, he dreams of building boats in the style of 1960’s Riva Aquarama speedboats!

I started in Palma, did Mediterranean loops, Atlantic crossings and Caribbean routes.

I was working with 60-75m yachts which had crews of 13 to 23 people. The interiors were like 5 star hotels. Doing a refit in a boatyard in Germany made me want to work with my hands on the interior design and maintenance of yachts.

The Riva Aquarama Lamborghini. Chippendale School.
The Riva Aquarama Lamborghini

I was attracted to the Chippendale School by the no frills, get-on-and-do-it approach. I’m not really one for the classroom – you learn more when you make mistakes. I enjoy being really hands-on, and, having been away for 3 years, it’s great to be back in Scotland.

My first piece of furniture is a hallway table. After a few design changes, the final design has high arching Gothic legs with organic lines. The table top has East Lothian’s River Tyne winding its way across it, like a vein running through rock. You don’t realize what it is right away – I wanted it to be intriguing.

It’s not complicated to make but has a great design.

The whole table’s made out of oak, and I’m going to speed up the aging effect to darken the wood by fuming it with ammonia in a tent.

Fergus mccoss with rocking horse restoration. Chippendale School.
Putting the rock back into the rocking horse

We’re learning about furniture restoration this week; I’m restoring a rocking horse, repairing it but keeping the aged look.

My long term goal is to go into boat building. In the meantime, I want to take tired objects and give them new life by incorporating other materials to turn them into pieces of furniture, like turning a piano into a bar.

The furniture design course is great. My confidence and skills in woodwork have soared already, and there’s a nice balance between hard physical work and learning.

You learn a lot from your colleagues. For example, another student is making a chess set, and he’s been sharing what he’s learnt so I can avoid some of the same mistakes. I plan to make three dimensional chess and backgammon sets. I want them to be pieces of art.

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