Although my job or trade title is cabinet maker, over the years I have come to think of myself, more as a woodworker, because I feel this more accurately describes what I do. Especially as today’s public have a more eclectic sense of the built environment. So “Cabinet Maker” could imply rigidity to a past genre; or maybe some other limitation to the repertoire. I like to work in harmony with natural locally grown timber. That is not to say that the odd bit of plywood will never enter my workshop, it has its uses, but only as a support material, never as a prime element. I also work with veneer, but generally with that which I saw myself in house from the same wood as used for the main parts of the piece. I do this because it allows freedom of design in certain circumstances, that would otherwise be difficult, unstable, or just plain impossible to be execute in the solid. My veneers are saw cut, at about 5mm thickness and then hand planed, in the same way that the rest of my furniture is finished. I rarely sand finish, this ensures what I have come to think of as my signature, a certain luminous glow, which only natural hand planed wood can give. As a woodworker, I can also enjoy the freedom to work in the round on one of my lathes. This might be to make a unique replacement part for an antique piece of furniture, which I may be restoring. I have always restored antiques, as many other woodworkers do, to supplement their turnover. However, now living in central France, close to the many château of the Loire valley, restoration of fine antique furniture has come to represent an important part of my repertoire. Alternatively I may be turning a more contemporary art piece, something I am drawn towards as a source of relaxation between major commissions. Alternatively, by way of change, I may sometimes make a woodworking plane. Something James Krenov would do, it was he who designed and perfected a new lower form of wood plane, one which fits the hand more comfortably and that can be tuned to individual use, almost like a musical instrument. It is this type plane that I adapt to my own work and use to plane all my work. This leaves a polished surface, ready to take my own blend of oils, leaving a durable, yet easily maintained finish that throws out its own warm glow.
My own work is heavily influenced by The Arts and Crafts movement, in both its incarnations either side of the Atlantic. The Shakers have also had an influence, as I believe they did on the Arts and Crafts movement itself. Although this are my reference points, interpretation is my own, which I hope is evident from my work. Humility, has taught me not to lay too heavy a reliance upon my own choice of detail. To know when to stand back and let the timber take the lead, itself choosing where each delicious display of it’s figure should stand.