Thomas Mathew's Amazing Talent

Thomas Mathew of Bangalore

At one stage I thought the DIY woodworking scene in India was like a barren desert but increasingly I am coming round to believing that it is actually quite fecund. The country seems to abound with people of exceptional talent ploughing their lonely furrows. At times, some of them surface through this blog.

Meet former engineer Thomas Mathew of Bangalore, maker of exquisite furniture.

This is his story:

"I was born in Singapore; did my engineering in England; worked in England and Nigeria and came back to Bangalore in 1985 and set up a factory to make plywood and block board. Finally I got fed up with all the bureaucracy and sold it.  Then I went back to my first love - cars. So I decided to build one. And I did. I built three of them and sold the first two. The last one was gifted to my eldest daughter. You can see pictures of the car if you google Scorpion Barchetta. It took me 1 1/2 years to build it. This was in 2004. I had a man Friday with me. He came to me to learn about cars etc at the age of 12. Unfortunately he suddenly died at the age of 42 in 2010. He was like a family member and I taught him everything I could. After that I had to do something that wouldn't need two people. That's how I got into woodworking."

Three Examples of his work

Katana Table

 Katana display table
"The katana table took me about a month to make.  The top is rubber wood and every other piece is Beech wood. As you may see I've mortised the legs into the table top as a design feature. The kegs are held together with the curved crossbar with pegs. You may notice that the legs too have a convex curve. "

Hall Table

Hall table
"The hall table as you see has inlay and marquetry. The table top and drawer frame is rubber wood. The drawer front and legs are 40 year old Burma teak from my mother-in-law 's  home. The drawer handles are also rubber wood. The veneers for the marquetry are Teak, Robusta and iron wood . The leaves were sand shaded for effect. The drawers are all tongue and groove. The finish is MRF polyurethane and with the same process of finishing. This piece took me about two and half months."

Chinese Inspired Cabinet

Chinese influenced cabinet

"I was born in Singapore and thus the influence. I'm also a great admirer of Japanese furniture, their culture, their workmanship and their reverence for whatever they do.

The cabinet was my first attempt at serious woodworking, and took me six months to complete it.

This piece is a combination of 6mm beech faced plywood and beech wood. All the large flat panels are fully floating to take care of movement of the timber. As in all my pieces there are no nails or screws or drawer slides.

The gold pin-striping and the bamboo maki-e took me almost 2 weeks to do.  I while building this was wondering what to do on the top surface and I happened to find the maki-e process on the net. So I read up on it and watched on YouTube and went ahead and did it  by ,God's grace. I have to confess to you that God has blessed me with two wonderful hands. The hinges, drawer pulls and the door handle and surrounding embellishments are from China. The whole piece stained dark and the finish is the same MRF polyurethane and same sanding etc."

Mr Mathew's choice of finish is MRF polyurethane. He applies about 20 coats out of which at least 8 coats would have gone through the wet sanding process. He uses a 12mm glass piece with wet and dry paper to sand the coating, usually starting with 600 grit and progressively going up to 2000 grit. He finishes off with 3M rubbing compound for a final polish.

Maki-e by Mathew

Indranil Banerjie
10 January 2016


  1. Thanks Indranil for discovering hidden talents. His job is really appreciable. His Finishing technique & Maki-e is really impressive and I am surprising how much patient required for 20 coats of finish. I didnt know there is 2000 grit sandpaper also exist.

    1. Hi Indranil,

      Thomas Mathew is an inspiration for all DIY woodworkers. I am one based in the US. I am visiting India and staying in Greater Noida till Jan 27. I am planning to build some furniture for the apartment while I am here. Would it be possible to contact you via email to get information on buying wood and tools near GN? My email is


  2. This is exquisite ! Does Mr Matthew maintain a blog or is he active in the social media platforms where we may learn from his procedure and projects?
    Also thank you for hosting this on your blog.

    1. Unfortunately he does not blog and isn't into Facebook. Will ask him to post his procedures, methods and so on.

  3. Hi, Can I get his contact details. I'm looking for some one who can teach basics technique in Bangalore. Thanks.

    1. Post your email address and I will forward it to him.

    2. I have sent him your email - he will reply if he is willing.


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