Nestled in the forest near the Silver Coast in Portugal lies the De La Espada factory, a facility that values the independence of master craftspeople and embraces both the traditions and innovations of woodworking.
TECHNOLOGY AND HAND CRAFT
Our craftspeople use high tech machinery and handwork for different operations according to which provides greater value: CNC machinery can provide a precision not possible with the human hand, while only a skilled craftsperson can decide how to work each unique cut of wood for maximum strength, or which planks look most beautiful together.
PRECISION IN REPEAT OPERATIONS
CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) machines contain multiple tools such as cutters, drills and a circular saw. The machines are programmed to craft product components to a high level of precision.
CNC machinery is used for increased efficiency in repeat operations. This machinery distills the knowledge of the carpenters, product development, and technical teams into one place.
CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawings created by our product development team link to the CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing).
The technicians at our factory decide the tools, operations, and sequencing needed for optimal results and programme the CAM accordingly.
Even after the CNC is programmed, which can take as long as building a complete piece by hand, the watchful eye of a skilled craftsperson/technician ensures that each unique piece of timber is machined in a way that maximises its structural integrity.
INITIAL PLANK SELECTION
De La Espada craftsmen and craftswomen take pride in their work, and apply their expertise to create the most beautiful furniture possible. This begins with the initial plank selection, where each plank is examined by an expert eye to assess its structural integrity and to define for which product component it is best suited.
On chests of drawers, each drawer face is made from a single plank of timber, chosen carefully for its beauty and proportions, as well as how well the colour and grain works with the other drawer faces.
In the final assembly, each chest of drawer is painstakingly adjusted by hand to get the shadow gaps even.
JIGSAW OF PARTS
Most De La Espada products are a jigsaw of parts, each worked individually, then together.
It would be far simpler, faster and more economical to use fewer parts, fewer operations, but this would create a very different product, lacking the depth, detail and integrity.
The parts are defined to achieve the most beautiful cuts of timber, the finest shapes, the strongest long grain to long grain bonds.
Many components require first assembly, a run through the CNC, second assembly, sanding, then final assembly where it is married with the other components before being sanded again and finished.
Just one leg of the Light Table by Matthew Hilton is made of no fewer than six main components and utilises six complex joints.
Three planks must be rough cut and joined together with a long grain to long grain lap joint, locking dowel and wood glue before being run through the CNC machine. This makes one half of one leg. The other half of the leg is formed the same way. Then the two halves are joined together with dowels and glue before being sanded and hand finished.
LOCAL WITH AN INTERNATIONAL VIEW
The De La Espada factory is filled with skilled craftspeople with varying expertise including: 3D drawing, operating and programming CNC machinery, selecting timber, and cabinetmaking. Half of our craftspeople are women.
Portugal has a long tradition of small workshops that make a wide range of products from furniture to textiles to ceramics. De La Espada sits proudly in this region, working with international design talent whose creative vision is optimally expressed through this superb Portuguese production.
TRADITIONAL BONDING METHODS
Traditional joinery including mortise and tenon, lap joints, wedge tenon, and dovetail joinery is used in abundance.
The joinery is bonded with wood glue that seeps deep into the fibres of the timber to create an unbreakable connection.
Mortise and tenon joints feature a locking dowel to add further stability.
Meet Our Craftspeople