As a youngster I was always making things, I can remember trying to make toy tanks and cars out of blocks of wood and nails when I could barely lift a hammer; I can’t have been more than five or six years old. After a while I learned that the tools were the things I liked to play with and I loved tinkering with wood and so a lifelong trend began. Things started modestly with hammer and nails and later on screws, but screws were hard work in those days, there were no power screw-guns, and ratchet screwdrivers (for those who can remember them – yes I am that old!) took some getting used to, not to mention effort to actually use them. Perhaps it was just the old adage ‘to a child with a hammer, everything looks like a nail’ – who knows.
Although my career of making things began with toys and simple things which I made for my own amusement, it did not blossom into means of earning a living until some 40 years later. Instead I chose the path of a scientist driven by a desire to understand what things are made of and how they work, and after school went off to university to do a degree and PhD in chemistry. The urge to make things dissipated during the ‘teen years to a certain extent, and I hated woodwork at school – they wouldn’t let me near the big toys – namely the machinery….
University rekindled my interest in all things tool and wood related, but this time driven by need rather than amusement, I simply could not afford to buy furniture for my digs – or at least that is what I told myself. I suspect in retrospect it had more to do with interfering with the beer budget than anything else but……
After uni, I was employed by a very large oil company for the next 20 years doing a range of different jobs, starting with oil chemistry and ending up doing corporate strategy – but that’s boring stuff. Of course, I got married and then I committed the next act of sealing my ‘making’ fate – I bought a house. Boy did that focus my attention on tools, budgets and the cost of things. Like many people, I wanted good quality at a reasonable price, but rapidly found that I simply could not stretch the budget far enough. Thus I began to make stuff in earnest, and I built a workshop and started putting things in it. It started once again with the hammer and nails and now the ‘shop’ is packed with all the machines I was not allowed to play with at school (Ha!).
All along the way my knowledge and skill base has broadened and deepened and I have become an avid reader and researcher of tools, techniques and styles. All the while I have been making all manner of things from decorative boxes to kitchens and tables and even scabbards and fittings for Japanese swords! (see the images on this page for some examples, top left shows a combined radiator cover/CD rack, to the right a couple of marquetry panels of dogwood flowers and the bottom shows a 19th century Japanese katana which I completely rebuilt starting from the blade).
After 20 years of corporate life I eventually saw the light and managed to engineer my exit with enough set aside to begin focussing solely on making things. A trip to Eltham Palace seriously inspired me to push my skills to their limits. Eltham palace has one of the best collections of Art Deco furniture and fittings in the UK (that I have found so far at least) and the skills and ingenuity in use of design and materials set my mind racing.
Now my focus is to produce the best that I can with the remit that the items must be highly decorative whilst maintaining an element of fun. As to my success in that respect – I leave that to you!