Waters and Acland: Swiss precision for UK’s finest furniture makers

To say you were trained in cooking by Paul Bocuse or Jamie Oliver would be excellent reference. This seems to be the same with Waters & Acland, who are ranked amongst the best furniture makers in the UK. For their sophisticated surface-finish they only trust precision-sanders from Switzerland …

Strictly speaking, Waters & Acland are a fairly typical cabinet/furniture making business based in the Lake District National Park. When looking at their work, one starts to understand why furniture makers from all over the UK jump at the chance to be trained by them: “So today we are not only a manufacturer but we also run a school”, says Will Acland. He and Oliver Waters frequently receive awards for their furniture-design. Even the Prince of Wales has visited this exceptional company. Their prestigious clients include Burberry, along with a number of private connoisseurs of fine arts and crafts. Both workshop and school therefore run hand in hand. Waters & Acland offer classes lasting from a week to one year, where already skilled craftsmen can hone their knowledge. They are not only trained to a height of perfection in crafts but also in furniture design. Therefore their trainees can sometimes seamlessly carry on with a long line of British designers like Adams or Chippendale. All those efforts led Waters & Acland to be ranked amongst the best furniture makers in the country by experts.

Perfect work requires fine tools

A visit to their workshops warms the heart of every admirer of fine tools: The typical British cast-iron planes are arranged neatly indexed in a wall unit. Amongst them are rare ones which are hard to come by these days. Some of the chisel-sets are equipped with home-turned handles made from exquisite woods. They look as they have never been punished by an iron hammer. “You need fine tools to do perfect work”, Will smiles at the visitor who can’t tear his eyes away, “This is equally as true for hand-tools as it is for machinery.”

Speaking about machinery – that’s the reason why we are actually here. It is quite evident that the machine-workshop is as immaculate as the rest. The machinery is at its finest – only approved quality-brands are present. Both sanders originate from Swiss precision-manufacturer Kündig – not without reason, Will ensures: “Most of the time we treat our furniture with a sophisticated polished oil-surface. This process only succeeds when the preliminary work – this means mainly sanding – is done neatly.” Therefore their Kündig Premium-2 1100-RE wide-belt sander and Kündig Uniq edge-sander are preferable, reports Will. This raises the question as to why Waters & Acland didn‘t favour the state-of-the-art oblique-sanding technology of the Kündig Brilliant instead of the “traditional” Kündig Premium? “It wasn’t necessary for us”, Will states “Even conventional sanding-technique works exceptionally with a Kündig sander.” In his view this relates to the high precision of this Swiss quality-product: “Of course you can get a more refined result with Kündig’s oblique sanding-heads. But we wanted a sanding-process that matches more with the reality out there. Our trainees learn to perfect a surface by themselves, without the help of a Kündig Brilliant sander.”

“Everybody still wants a Kündig sander”

In the discussion that follows, he agrees that with polished oil-surfaces, they would clearly benefit from the finer, traceless sanding with Kündig’s oblique sanding-technology. Actually this makes him an admirer of Kündig, he says: “I think through its fine sanding-quality a Kündig is a perfect match for exclusive arts& crafts joinery.” Stemming from some of the best workshops in the United Kingdom, Kündig has achieved its excellent reputation with good reason, Will Acland laughs: “Everybody still wants a Kündig sander – it is simply the best.”

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