While I very much enjoy woodworking it wasn’t my original choice of career, and nor does it currently pay all the bills. My main employment is at the very opposite end of the technological scale to the hand-tool work I undertake, being at the cutting edge of aerospace engineering.
I spent four years at university in the west midlands, and left with a First Class Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with Fluid Dynamics. This left me with plenty of potential directions, and so far I’ve enjoyed a varied career.
My first job was in the south east, and involved the testing of defensive aid systems for armoured vehicles, designed to protect tanks and armoured personnel carriers from enemy weapons. I also spent several months while at this job working on ion thrusters for the Bepicolumbo mission, Europe’s first forray to Mercury; that mission is currently en-route using the engines I helped to produce CAD models for.
My next job change took me four hours up the country to the north east, where I spent several years working with a range of military aircraft. This work spanned from fast-jets to large transport aircraft, and shifted me firmly onto an aviation career track.
Another job change then took me down to the south west, only a few tens of miles from where I grew up and went to school. This is still my day job, working on various projects for commercial aviation that have included computer simulation work for both Airbus and Boeing aircraft.
While I find this work interesting and rewarding, much of today’s engineering work is performed on computers, rarely interacting with and never hands-on manufacturing any components. As someone who has always enjoyed more practical activities, I started looking for an outlet.
Metalworking is rather niche, and while I’d enjoy the challenge it seemed unlikely to provide any income at a scale that I could perform as one person. Power-tool woodworking was next on the list, but with my current living situation there simply wasn’t space to set up a big enough workshop.
This led me to try something entirely new to me – working with traditional, unpowered hand tools. Well, not entirely new; we’ve all used hand saws. But planes, spokeshaves, brace-and-bit drills, and chisels? These were unfamiliar territory. Basic. Old-fashioned. But I dived in anyway, because they allowed me to start experimenting in a small space without the need for power.
I quickly fell in love with the quiet, calm way of working. Anyone who’s used power tools can attest that working in goggles, ear defenders, and a dust mask is pretty unpleasant; hand tools free you of them, with the exception of a mask for sanding every now and again. The manual exercise left me exhausted at the end of each session, but fulfilled. The projects didn’t come out perfect at the beginning, but were rewarding. And as I started to improve and learn, with substantial help from the venerable Paul Sellers and his videos, I knew this was how I wanted to continue working.
So, here we are. A lot of practice later (though I’ve still got a few decades to go before I get to Paul’s experience, and since he claims he’s still learning every day I might have some learning left to do myself…) and I’m proud enough of my work to begin offering it up for sale. This is very much my secondary job at the moment, and whether it remains so or not depends very much on you!
The only way this business will grow is by word of mouth. If you’ve bought from me and liked my work, I’d appreciate you looking at my referral scheme, or even just passing along word of me to friends who might be interested. With your help I can continue to grow this little endeavour of mine, and play some small part in helping to keep the wonderful tradition of hand woodworking alive.