"When I was nine years old my parents gave me a woodworking set"


Not a plastic toy one but one with real tools. It consisted of a hammer, screwdriver, small handsaw, bradawl, square, knife, chisel (these were the days when common sense was just that. Common), and a little pump action hand drill. I soon conscripted an old table and set it up in the garden to serve as my workbench. This was the start of my woodworking journey that is still going strong fifty plus years later.

I remember so vividly the occasion when I presented my father with a boat I had made. He was thrilled and I was overjoyed that he was thrilled and wanted to do more.

“You know”, he said, “If you look at how a real boat is made, you can make the next one even better”.

I knew exactly what he meant. Off to the library I went. This was a place you could borrow books from on any subject you liked for three whole weeks at no cost! When your only nine years old that was cool. Bear in mind that I am talking about the late 1960's before the birth of the Internet and all the social media platforms we now take for granted. Back in my childhood, if you sought information you bought or borrowed books, subscribed to specialist magazines or went to night school. That was it. Miss Kazor, the local librarian found me a book on building small sailing boats and I used the designs contained within to base my second model on. It still did not float but that's not the point, my dear old dad in his wisdom had taught me how to learn.

Despite having three major timber merchants in the immediate area, each offering bespoke joinery services I never made a career out of woodworking. Instead I drifted into retail sales for a number of years before returning to college in the mid 1980's to study for the new wave of computers. I changed direction and became a programmer, then analyst before teaching computer programming for a while. As an IT manager in the early 2000's I jacked in the stressful and hectic pace to teach IT to people with learning difficulties for a local charity. I enjoyed this immensely and it freed up hours of commuting time. Just what the doctor ordered.

At the end of the five year project I continued on a self employed basis right up to my retirement to teach, lecture and run workshops on three dimensional art heavily based around the Japanese art of Origami (another of my passions). Through all these years there was always time for a bit of woodworking but now I'm retired I finally have a workshop of my own and can explore all the facets and fascinations and beauty working with wood can bring. The 8x6 Workshop has become a popular YouTube channel where I share my adventures with the world with the help of my trusty sidekick Stanley the clamp of course. I still have the bradawl from that very first set in use in my tool collection.