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Brothers-in-Arms with a Passion for Traditional Wood Craft

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

Brothers Chris and Kim Francis are united in their passionate dedication to keep alive the fine art of fashioning traditional hand-crafted wooden furniture of distinction.

Their Francis Furniture business in Port Macquarie is a veritable cauldron of creation, where Chris and Kim work with their team of craftsmen to design and craft bespoke pieces that enhance interiors with unique touches of class.

The fact that they’ll soon celebrate 40 years of business, proves there’s still buzz in the market for their fine products, which range from fine contemporary pieces to reproductions of traditional period furniture.

They use age-old skills of traditional woodworking that, unfortunately nowadays, are all too rare in an age of bland flat-pack and off-the-shelf furniture.

Acknowledgement: The photo above was taken by Craig Mason of East Coast Photography

Just as in days gone by, customers can bring their own ideas and for Chris and Kim to work with, or let them use their well-honed skills to come up with bespoke designs that will complement and enhance room spaces.

It’s a tribute to their artisan talents and keen commitment that there’s still consistent demand from homeowners and businesses seeking their custom-designed quality wooden furnishings that bring real personality and style to interiors.

Grains and Colours

The brothers’ love affair with all things wooden and traditional is a lifelong passion that gained expression during their formative years.

It took root when they were growing up in their home town of Cootamundra, south west of Sydney, where Chris went to work with wood as a shipwright and Kim began using it in his job to build doors.

During their apprenticeships, they were both involved in building furniture projects, gaining an understanding of how the character of individual timbers can be adapted to suit particular styles of furniture and furnishings.

This growing appreciation of the varying qualities of different woods, their grains and colours, led them to delve into how indigenous Australian woods could be used in their work – an aspect that became central to their output and is still an important part of Francis Furniture today.

The beauty and soul of wood is at the heart of everything they do. So, using Australian woods like Tasmanian Blackwood and Sydney Blue Gum continues the theme of crafting furniture that isn’t only functional in a house, but part of its character too.

That’s not to say they’re on a pure Australian track, as they also source imported timbers like American White Oak, European Beech and Canadian Rock Maple for their work.

Keeping the Spirit Alive

Francis Furniture was born, with a mission to design and create unique wooden furniture using age-old traditional techniques blended with modern technologies, in the early 1980s when Chris and Kim had finished their apprenticeships and relocated to Port Macquarie

Fast forward to today, and the apprentices of present times play an important role in Chris and Kim’s goal of keeping the spirit of traditional woodworking alive and flourishing.

For they maintain a policy of welcoming young apprentices to the company, to learn their craft and ensure it’s continued for generations to come.

Their apprenticeship programme is carried out alongside working with local schools to showcase all the company’s skills to parties of visiting schoolchildren, maintaining interest and enthusiasm for the craft in coming generations.

That entails still using some of the old-style practices of the past which have fallen out of favour elsewhere in the modern, mechanised workplace, such as dovetail joints and constructing everything carefully and properly by hand.

And some of the traditional tools of the trade from Chris and Kim’s own apprentice days are still in use at the company – old timber planes and old chisels which are enjoyable to use and seem to impart their own old-style charisma on the furniture they produce.

Hands-On Process

The warmth and character of wood bring to a home is something special. Natural grain and abstract swirls make every piece unique and that quality is fully articulated in the custom designs that Chris and Kim create.

It’s a thoughtful, hands-on process that can be almost as unique as the finished article itself.

Visiting the customer’s home, discussing needs and requirements and then building dialogue to conjure up what’s required is painstaking and intricate.

Just as painstaking is the selection of just the right timber to bring out the full expression of character in a finished piece.

This is where the brothers’ deep knowledge and expertise find full expression. The blending of their furniture knowledge, traditional technical skills and passion for the natural beauty of hardwoods is what makes both their tailored service and products so exceptional.

Heart and Soul

In a furniture and furnishings world of mass-manufactured, soulless products – all function and no style – Francis Furniture carries the flame of a traditional skill that lovingly crafts individual wooden furniture with heart and soul.

It’s also a company that – just as in times past – is an integrated part of its local community, and has an honest dedication to keeping that flame alive for the communities of the future.

Above all, Chris, Kim and all their craftsmen have a deep love of wood and working with it to create tailored objects of unique beauty, that will provide both function and pleasure in a home or business for years to come.

While people keep appreciating such fine furniture there will likely always be a market for such craftmanship.

It’s somewhat uplifting to see this traditional hand-made craft continuing to impress and be valued in the modern age.

To maintain such precious traditional skillsets in this day and age is no mean feat, and one that deserves plaudits.

That the preservation of such skills and craftmanship results in the careful manufacture of beautiful, inspiring furniture is a wonderful bonus and a tribute to the lifelong passion of these inspiring brothers-in-arms.

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A word from Brilliant's CEO

Made in Australia.

The legs of our conference table at the office is handcrafted by Francis Furniture. Of course, this table is the centrepiece of the office.

Handcrafted furniture is perfect for those who love personalised, valuable pieces that last. They're luxurious and you're contributing to earth's sustainability efforts. While shopping for furniture, I was surprised that some flat pack furniture is just as expensive!

I always admire the skills and passion of these craftsmen.

Conference table at Brilliant-Online's office in Port Macquarie, NSW Australia
Conference table at Brilliant-Online's office in Port Macquarie, NSW Australia

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