Woodworker Dilo Fernandino Featured on Brazilian TV
More well-deserved recognition has been visited upon Dilo Fernandino, the man who builds
full-size rosewood baroque masterpieces by hand in his 42 square foot workshop. After his first
solo exhibition in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in February, TV Globo, one of the world's largest
television networks, featured his signature work and interview during a program on April 3, 2010.
Here is a video of the interview, along with a transcript of the audio translated into English:
(0:13) Antique furniture and the greatest Brazilian sculptor, Aleijadinho
(known as the Little Cripple) have inspired the work of a contemporary
Brazilian sculptor. Our TV team followed his creative process, which
starts with research and design.
(0:27) The origin of it all is what was written in books. Dilo is a
researcher of the old woodworking techniques. There are complicated
methods that are described only in foreign literature.
(0:41) The English-language books, for example, teach elementary things that
our old woodworkers used to know, but that most of the young ones do
not know any more. For example, how to sharpen a chisel or a scraper.
(0:56) Practical knowledge and a keen eye for a special art period: the rococo.
(1:03) The carved decoration of a rococo artwork is balanced concerning its
vertical axis, but it is asymmetric. One side is different from the
other. So I think this "finesse" pleases the eye and is a challenge to
(1:20) Research and talent guide his work. The first lines begin in his
study. The project must be precisely drawn.
(1:31) Whatever I can draw on paper, I create it in the wood accordingly. If
it is not good on the paper, it will be bad in the wood. Sometimes it
takes months. My trial sketch has to be laid aside for some time so
that my mental concept can ripen. I come back and take a look. If I do
not like it, I remake it three or four times, until the moment it
(1:55) From the study to the tiny shop inside his apartment. The drawing of
an ancient Greek god is glued on a board.
(2:05) People usually draw it by hand on the wood. However there can be a
transposition error in this step. Whenever you transfer a drawing from
the paper to the wood, you make a little mistake. The drawing gets
distorted. My procedure of gluing the paper to the wood keeps the
drawing like the original idea. That one is a glued photocopy to keep
(2:31) Dilo is a master of "ebanisterie," a specialty that melds
cabinetmaking with sculpture. The particular way in which the work is
accomplished makes this craft more extraordinary - done only by hand
utilizing traditional tools.
(2:47) The feeling of cutting the wood by hand is very pleasant to me. I
think the machinery would steal this pleasure from me.
(2:58) His tools look like ancient tools.
(3:02) I have rasps and files in this toolbox which are used for removing the
wood by friction. Those other toolboxes contain chisels. These are
English micro chisels from a factory that has been producing chisels
for over 200 years. These are Japanese chisels that were made with a
very important technology called laminated steel - the same used for
producing samurai swords, because it keeps a very sharp edge.
(3:44) For carving this way, skill and strength are necessary. The artist
sorts from old salvaged wood only the noblest and strongest: rosewood
and "pau marfim."
(3:56) If you carve in a very soft wood, its fibers will get torn or smashed.
The hard wood is difficult to cut, but it accepts the high level of
detail you want to define.
(4:12) The Poseidon mask is Dilo's most recent work. The first ones were this
reliquary [a receptacle for displaying sacred relics] and the
crucifix. At that time he was still a sixteen-year-old boy looking for
his own style. Afterwards he built the bed, the side tables and other
pieces of furniture.
He spent five working years to build this cabinet decorated with
scrolls, sculptures and masks. His signature written in Latin
increases the nostalgic impression.
(4:43) I began by sculpting the frontispiece followed by the façade.
Afterwards I made its laterals, the Atlases and the abutments. The
abutment design was based on my research of Aleijadinho's works found
in a Mother Church.
(5:06) This Mother Church is famous due to its rich set of Aleijadinho's
preserved 18th century artworks: 3 altars and 2 hanging pulpits. The
ground pulpit was built by Dilo. It was a challenging commission.
(5:20) I was panic-stricken at first. I hesitated to accept such a big
commission because my shop is so small.
(5:29) However Dilo accomplished it in a record period of time: 45 days. We
can imagine how proud he was. Now we can understand the real meaning
of the word "achievement."
(5:41) I wanted to reach the level of Aleijadinho's feet, and in a way I
actually have. Everyone who visits that church will see Aleijadinho's
hanging pulpits, and mine standing below them.
(6:09) [Narrator previews a future program]
More articles telling Dilo's story:
My Unusually Small Workshop
Readers Respond to "My Unusually Small Workshop"
Genesis of a Lower Cabinet
Progress on my Lower Cabinet
A Dream Comes True
Solo Furniture Exhibition in Brazil
Dilo can be reached via email at
Visit Dilo's woodworking website at