My (auto?) Biography
I describe myself as a lifelong amateur woodworker. My first day’s work began in a small joiner’s workshop in Stockport, England in 1965. No masterpieces ever emerged from that workshop that I knew of, but it was there that my life working wood began alongside real woodworkers. My amateur status comes from the fact that whether I got paid or not I always worked wood. Professionals do it only for money. I have been privileged to work with wood every day for 49 years. In the beginning, no one knew me and here, two thirds through, still no one knows me. But my work and my designs gained the approval of President Bush, Senator Gramm and two of my larger pieces now grace the Cabinet Room of the White House as part of the White House Permanent Collection there.
I have made canoes, built a cello for my son and had my designs copied by woodworkers who liked my designs and needed to make a living.
My world changed when I started apprenticing others to make wood work for them. I came across a whole world of woodworkers, hundreds of thousands of them, who’d never touched a hand tool, carved a rosette, inlaid a panel or even cut a basic dovetail. They never stopped asking me where they could gain the skills I had. Soon they began asking me to train them at weekends in my shop. I couldn’t help myself. My love for working wood didn’t belong to me alone, in the evenings I taught children by the dozen for twenty years pretty much week in week out. Out of those babes came the next generation of craftsmen who progressed into apprenticeship, became journeymen and finally ended up as craftsmen in their own workshops.
Since then I’ve dedicated my life to educating and training my fellow woodworkers yet still work with wood and make new designs as part of my regular work. Teaching has become second nature for me and I have lost track of the apprentices I trained and the students I’ve worked with through the years. I love to lecture and demonstrate my craft work whether it’s in Europe, the USA or Canada. This is where I connect with real people working wood.
My workshop in Penrhyn Castle in North Wales is where I founded New Legacy School of Woodworking. Here I can relate best to the new-genre woodworker and it’s here that I make films, write books, create my photographic work and teach my classes. What more could a man want. Making furniture has been so much my life. I hope that it never stops.
Teaching my first course for the Texas Arts and Crafts Foundation led to a structured training program for others to master hand tool skills and now over 3,000 enthusiasts find significantly higher levels of fulfilment and wellbeing in their personal creative work. By incorporating these traditional methods into their everyday woodworking, men, women and children now work safely and productively in their own home workshops.
Though I have become more recognised on an international level through teaching and writing articles for specialist woodworking magazines in Europe and the US, I find the greatest richness knowing that my courses are changing lives and reopening the closed doors that stopped woodworking for children.
You can find my past articles in Woodwork, Woodworker West, Popular Woodworking, The Woodworker, Traditional Woodworker, Good Woodworking and others.
For a more official looking resume contact me. There’s more between the lines on becoming a woodworker but it’s a lot of fun.