New old sycamore shelves for a cottage kitchen

We've been commissioned to make a pair of L-shaped shelves for a kitchen in a beautiful stone cottage in Grenoside. The interior of this cottage has been very sympathetically decorated, with the walls carefully plastered to create no sharp corners, and the customers want these shelves to fit with this softened, older feel of the space.

This means making new shelves to look like old shelves, which is always a challenge. Aging a piece has to be done in a subtle manner. There's plenty of brand new old-looking furniture out there, and for an obvious reason. If you make work which looks old and a bit battered, you don't need to take much care with the material and the work as it moves around the workshop. In fact, dents and scratches and areas of break-out from the planing process are all to be welcomed. Your final job before finishing the work is going to be to hit it with a hammer a few times, grind the (already bashed) corners off with a belt sander, and scrape it with a sharp point. The very thought goes through me and makes me shudder. We don't take this approach in our work. 

With this commission, the shelves wanted to feel like they were part of the fabric of this old building, and we took snaps of a couple of other items in the kitchen - a chopping board and the leading edge of a butcher's block which has been incorporated into the relatively new kitchen, to guide us as we worked. The work needed to appear softened and worn smooth by time.

We sourced a piece of sycamore from Treestation in Manchester, a project which makes use of Manchester's street trees as they are felled, converting them for biomass, chip, firewood and (thankfully) boarding up the good wide boles for use by woodworkers. This is the board we bought.

After making templates on site we began the process of shaping this new timber to create the feel of being 200 years old...

We fitted the shelves over oak battens, hiding their means of support, and took a couple of snaps straight afterwards.

We just got these photos of the shelves, now loaded with pots and pans, from the happy customers.