Halifax, NS, Canada – Gary Staple, who was recently honored as the Chippendale International School of Furniture’s Student of the Year, says he began his career “The old fashioned way,” by working on-site under well-seasoned carpenters. He went on to run a successful contracting company, and he spent his spare time restoring a house with his brother. But still, he says, “I wanted something more.”

His desire to continue learning sent him on a search for the best furniture and cabinetmaking school he could find. And his passion for woodworking led him to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he worked alongside students from around the world at the Chippendale International School of Furniture.

During the year-long program, Staple immersed himself in 1,400 hours of hands-on bench work, picking up intricate marquetry techniques and applying them to handmade guitars, end tables, and cabinets. His ebony and walnut tea cabinet will be on display in Canada over the summer.

The cabinet borrows inspiration from furniture maker James Krenov and traditional Japanese furniture pieces. To create the cherry blossom marquetry motif, Staple used a punch which he created specifically for the job.

“The Chippendale course has been hugely useful and taught me a great deal, as well as giving me a European perspective on furniture design,” Staple said. As owner of the company, Gary Staple Fine Furniture, Staple applies the fine cabinet-building and restoration techniques he honed at Chippendale to designing custom furniture and restoring existing pieces. 

Though Staple entered the program with years of experience, many students enter as beginners. 

“Our students, many of whom have never worked with wood before, leave the school with skills they can use for the rest of their lives," noted Anselm Fraser, Chippendale founder and principal.

The next 30-week intensive course begins in October, with graduating students able to take incubation space at the school to establish new businesses.

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