Rob Millard’s journey to woodworking and furniture making was not a clear path. What began as an interest in a seventh-grade industrial arts class – an interest so strong that he purchased a Stanley #7 Jointer plane as his first tool – was almost derailed with a poor grade on a project three years later. It was then that Rob decided to move away from furniture and into carpentry where he worked after graduation.
After a freak on-the-job accident, Rob moved to a machine shop where he found he had extra time after his work was completed. Time for a hobby. He discovered, in 1996, a woodworking magazine that showcased a cherry highboy that inspired him to return to his earlier passion, and in 2002 he left his job to dedicate his efforts to building furniture. Today he specializes in museum-quality reproductions from the Federal period.
Rob began his woodworking career in a one-car garage. His tools are simple. While he uses a table saw, the majority of his work is with a bandsaw and hand tools. He says, “I don’t have a lot of tools because it doesn’t take many to make furniture.” Along with a few planes, including his #7, which he uses on every project, Rob uses Japanese chisels because the hollow-ground backs are easy to keep sharp and are well balanced.
Rob strives to make his furniture match the originals in form, construction details and surface texture. In order to achieve this goal, he relies on methods and tools that were available in the period. All surfaces are planed, scraped, or carved by hand. Joinery is executed by hand, following period practices. Full width boards are used where allowed by species, and dictated by appearance. Traditional hide glue is used to assemble the furniture.
Rob has contributed articles to Popular Woodworking Magazine, Fine Woodworking, and the Journal of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers. A piece of his work was displayed at the White House in 1999.