In which year did you start woodworking

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1. In which year did you make your first woodworking product? I mean an actual furniture unit, not a bird's house in elementary school.

1979 - a small coffee table in teak - from Moss & Co in Hammersmith, the timber cost £33! - made on a workmate in the kitchen of the flat we were living in. I still have it.

2. Who inspired you to become a woodworker?

My Dad - he was a keen amateur woodworker - did a bit of woodcarving, wood turning, roofing - I still have an nearly finished oak longcase clock he left when he died - waiting for inspiration to finish it (or find someone who wants it!)
He borrowed things all the time. He only forgot to take them back once!
Forgot to say, my old Dad also did some turning back at his school and we've still got two salad bowls which have been in regular use for more than 80 years I reckon. Once well soaked in oil domestic wood-ware can last for a very long time.
I've got some Furniture School gouges from Central St. Martins ( I studied photography there in my yoof). Luckily they don't want them back, as they don't exist any more.
Forgot to say, my old Dad also did some turning back at his school and we've still got two salad bowls which have been in regular use for more than 80 years I reckon. Once well soaked in oil domestic wood-ware can last for a very long time.
Agreed, I have a hutch or blanket chest made by "Uncle John" no idea who he was but it's been in the family probably 400 years if David Barby was correct about it's age. Not worth much unfortunately.
I grew up in the South of England, my father was a carpenter and joiner, I was the youngest of four kids and we made most of our own entertainment. I would get up early Saturday morning, go out to the shed and sharpen my axe and knife on an old hand grinding wheel, take my slingshot and dog, meetup with my friends and head off into the countryside on adventures, climbing trees, chopping trees down, making rafts, catching snakes, lizards, frogs and newts etc. We played in old abandoned buildings, castle ruins, and the abandoned Hawkinge aerodrome. Always made stuff.

I went to school in Dover (St Edmunds) We had woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing classes, art and pottery, I loved it all.
My first serious stuff was made at school. I started making a huge chess set out of Aluminum on the metal lathe, but never came close to finishing that. But I did finish a crossbow' not a toy by any stretch of the imagination. I purchased a 100lb pull bow-prod from B&P Barnett and a Dacron string, the wooden stock I made in the wood shop, the two part metal trigger I made in the metal shop, Flights for the bolts I made from turkey feathers. This crossbow would put a bolt though a 2" pine board enough to sick out the other side a bit. I made that in 1969 ish.

In the seventies i worked in a few crappy cabinet shops, and a glass fibre boat shop, but got fed up with that and started working for myself. I liked leatherwork and made shoes for a while, just for myself for a hobby.
I was always fascinated with castles and loved the fantasy of that age and the mindset of building things to last.
The massive solid furniture from that time was and inspiration to me and one day while reading a book about an Abbey I saw a beautiful trestle table, I was big, solid and simple, Quiet, plain and unassuming, but solid as a rock, and I thought that's what furniture should be. After seeing that table in a photo, I made my fist table and benches, All mortise and tenon, made with a few hand tools up in my attic. It was only made of pine not Oak like the one in the Abbey, but I that is when I decided to make furniture for a living working for myself. I don't have any photos of the two crossbows that I made. But below is me and my first furniture piece some time in the 70's. And yes that a Bruce Lee poster on the wall.
Lots of inspiration, from Castles to Gimson and Barnsley, Nakashima, Krenov, Maloof, Rhuelmann, Stickley, Peters, All of the Japanese joinery etc,
Mostly from all of the old stuff that has stood the test of time.


1. 1967 or maybe 1968, at secondary school when, after various minor woody things I made a nest of tables out of utile for my parents. I've got them now, inherited after both parents died.

2. No-one really. I simply found I liked making things out of wood, seemed to have a bit of knack for it, spent hours outside lessons in the woodwork shop for fun (when I wasn't playing rugby) and wanted to work with it in some form as a career. My best O Level grades, all 1s, were in English Language, English Lit, and Woodwork. So I aimed to be a verbose furniture maker, and I guess I got there in the end with some training, qualifications, and plenty of waffle for money, ha, ha.

3. Always had a bit of a soft spot for Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and mid-twentieth century stuff, but picking out two or three individual pieces to point to is more difficult than I want to engage with. Having said that, I've always managed to find something of interest or to learn from through looking at all sorts of artefacts from the earliest times to now. That encompasses furniture, architectural joinery, carving, sculpture, etc stretching back from contemporary (digital design, CNC, etc) to ancient cultural artefacts (Egyptian, Asian, Indian, and so on). Slainte.
I started work as an apprentice caqrpenter and joiner in 1956 and have a continuous service record up to, and including, the present day! Retirement is not a thought I cherish!

Lately, everybody seems to be posting photos of furniture on the forum. The only piece of furniture I have made is a grandfather clock made out of quarter-sawn oak using a movement that was made between 1675 and 1712, in Edinburgh. 1675 is the year that the clockmaker became a master clockmaker and 1712 is the year that he died.

If anybody would like to look up my website, Atkinsons' Joiners, you will be able to see a gallery of the items we have made and restored over the years, along with a brief history of my work.


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