World Renowned David Harber Chooses Excell Metal Spinning for Latest Design

The story of David Harber Ltd., like their awe inspiring designs, captivates forward-thinking craftmanship for the generations. And with it, David Harber have made it their mission to make designs that are both original and beautiful. Their alluring designs range from sculptures, sundials and water features that both enchant and endure, and these are tailored to their customer’s needs and environments.

It is clear, from the countless testimonials that David Harber has received, that what truly resonates amongst their worldwide customer base, is the timeless quality and beauty of their art. From South Africa to the United States, David Harber’s designs are respected worldwide. We are thrilled to play a role in their latest Florio Design.

In this case study, we will explore how a combination of Excell Metal Spinning’s Artisanship, along with David Harber’s artistry, brought together a truly spectacular design. 

David Harber Ltd

David Harber Ltd’s studio and workshop can be found at Blewburton Barns, Aston Upthorpe. And over the past thirty years David Harber Ltd has grown considerably to boast a highly skilled workforce numbering over thirty-five strong. Amongst this fantastic group of men and women can be found an exceptional breadth of knowledge and skill. Ranging from Technical Designers, CAD operatives, Engineers, Craftsmen, Installation Experts, Client Service Managers and Marketing and Sales consultants. 

David Harber’s artwork can be found gracing some of the world’s most prestigious addresses from public spaces to luxury developments, hotels and private gardens. Each design engaging with the unique spaces they are commissioned for. 

Inspired by the interaction of light and reflection, David’s use of brass, copper, bronze, stainless steel and stone is emblematic of Earth’s natural beauty. These key elements, all the while, producing complexity and enchantment. It is then no wonder why some of the best interior designers have a particular fondness for his artwork.

“I have a desire to make pieces that confound perception,’ says David Harber. “Our pieces are made to invite the viewer to question what they see and usher them into another dimension through the use of shape, media and materials. The artworks we create are designed to evolve with the landscape and interact with the environment, giving a true sense of place and time.”

In 2016, the company was honored with The Queens Award for International Trade for outstanding overseas growth while remaining committed to British design and craftsmanship. David’s career would also go on to see three of his pieces unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, and one by King Charles III.

To learn more about David Harber Ltd. Visit their website.

The Challenges David Harber Ltd. Faced


David Harber’s latest design, the Florio, faced many difficult challenges that would eventually put to the test the skill and expertise of Excell Metal Spinning Ltd. With a strict deadline, the Florio was earmarked to be revealed at the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. 

The design incorporates the use of copper sheet metal, four of which were produced as funnels and a final nose cone component. The largest of the funnels measures 847mm in depth and 798.7mm on the outside dimension. Certainly no easy feat.

Finding the right supplier proved to be a somewhat difficult process for David Harber Ltd. Other Metal Spinning companies that were approached did not have the capabilities to metal spin the profiles required for the Florio. In addition, due to the bespoke nature of the project, other companies simply turned down the opportunity due to the small quantity required. 

David Harber even considered using faceted sheet metal folded to create gramophone shapes. However, this risked the profiles being too thin which would lead to the increased likelihood of warping during welding or cutting. 

In a bid to save further costs down the line, David Harber Ltd. investigated whether or not metal spinning companies had existing tooling that could be used for the sculpture. However, this yielded no results. Back to square one, David Harber Ltd. began the search for a Metal pinning specialist, who was not only willing to take on a difficult bespoke project, but was also willing to produce custom-made tooling for the profiles.

The Metal Spinning Process


Word of mouth would eventually see David Harber Ltd. find and approach Excell Metal Spinning Ltd., one of the UK’s leading metal spinning specialists. With over two decades in business, and a combined workforce experience of one hundred and fifty years in the craft, Excell is reputed for their excellence in quality and service.

David Harber set out their criteria; to be able to spin copper which is notoriously soft and difficult to handle and to create custom tooling. Tooling needed to be designed to create the exact profiles required to produce the Florio sculpture.

There were a number of hurdles that needed to be crossed throughout the project. The option of tooling was the first challenge. The option of steel tooling was first discussed, and from experience, we knew the expense this would require. In addition, a steel tool, custom-made to suit the largest of the Florio profiles would be extremely heavy and difficult to handle. The largest hand-spinning lathe we have available would not be able to sustain the weight of the tool at high RPM. This option was immediately ruled out.

We then presented David Harber with the option of wood tooling. Wood tooling is extremely lightweight and much less costly in comparison to steel tooling. It is ideally suited for Aluminium and Copper components in small quantities. The disadvantage of wood tooling is that it doesn’t produce as clean a finish, due to the pressure it undergoes during metal spinning. The profiles would however, be crafted to exact requirements and with our experience look crisp and clean. It would also mean we could turn each wood tool down to size from the largest profile to the smallest which provided additional cost savings.

Material availability also proved difficult. “The material thickness and availability caused sticking points,” said David Harber Ltd., “but we did work around these to achieve the desired results”. Initially, we began using 2mm thick copper sourced from David Harber Ltd. This later proved to be a slight setback. Due to the large depth of the components, the material would thin and warp. Furthermore, it proved difficult to spin to the wooden tool due to how thin the front of the initial funnel was, which measured 113.4mm. The extreme pressure exerted on such a thin area of wood created cracks in the tool. A decision was made to stop due to the health and safety hazards this presented.

Meanwhile, open dialogue and transparency was maintained throughout the process with David Harber. “Even when things weren’t going to plan or specification, it was refreshing that all teams discussed next steps and worked together to achieve a positive outcome,” stated David Harber Ltd. Transparency was crucial to garner understanding of the issues that presented themselves and eventual solutions were made. It was agreed that the thickness of the copper needed to change. “The change in material thickness threw a curve ball as the copper material proved difficult to source. Using a mixture of sheet sizes and different thickness material for the smallest spinning worked well. Positive and regular communication was vital at this stage”.

To overcome the issues with tooling, it was also decided that the profiles would be produced in two halves. The front half (the thinnest of the two halves) would be produced on Aluminium tooling. Taking the same concept as wood, Aluminium tooling could be turned down to size for each Florio profile which provided additional cost savings. The two halves would then be welded and cleaned.

The solutions implemented proved fruitful, and five profiles were eventually metal spun and delivered to David Harber Ltd. in time for their design team to apply the finishing touches.

The Outcome

“Excell’s services were paramount in this project as the copper spinnings make the entire sculpture,” said David Harber Ltd. “We designed the internal structure, but when viewing the finished sculpture, all that is visible is the copper spinnings”.

“On the last spinning, we discussed removing the weld. This was great as it reduced our manufacture time back on site. Next time, this will be requisite for all spinnings.” 

When asked about their favourite feature of the profiles, David Harber Ltd highlighted “the natural patina of the material. It was unexpected but inspiring for future products”. 

“The opportunity that Excell wanted to create bespoke tooling so we could turn our vision into a sculpture was paramount. We achieved exactly what we desired. Now the teething problems are sorted, there is no need to change anything. Communication was always top notch, even when having difficult discussions.

This was a learning curve for all parties! Our perceptions are higher now we know what Excell are capable of. The level of attention to detail and communication has been excellent.”

Excell Metal Spinning were later informed that the Florio featured at David Harber’s trade stand during 2023’s Chelsea Flower Show. Their stand was also awarded the prestigious five stars, while the Florio was on display alongside many of their spectacular designs.

For the Future

We would like to wish David Harber and their wonderful team the very best on their journey of innovation. Some of the biggest challenges they face is creating organic and curvaceous forms using a variety of techniques, forming metals into compound curvatures. And we will be on hand ready to take on their next challenge.

You can find David Harber on social media, so go give them a follow;


Find out more about Excell Metal Spinning Ltd on their member profile page here

Member-created content 1 year ago | From members

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