When did you start at Dovetailors and what were your first impressions?
I started in 2013 not long after finishing college. It was my first job, it was exciting. My first project was working on the altar Dovetailors made for Wakefield. I made the first prototype and I remember noticing that the pace of work was so much quicker than at college.
What training had you done before joining?
I did a foundation degree and BA Honours at Leeds College of Art in furniture making. It was a hands-on course going from learning machining, advanced machining, furniture making and some CNC skills. Each year we had a project and in the last year we made a final year piece. I chose to make a whisky cabinet, which is now in my parents’ dining room.
Since you became part of the workshop team at Dovetailors how has your role evolved?
I started doing piece work for Dovetailors, then joined as a junior maker before progressing my career with the team to become furniture maker and then head maker. Now my responsibilities include running the workshop, scheduling orders, managing the team, ordering materials and liaising with customers. I also discuss designs with David and of course work on projects.
What do you enjoy most about being head maker at Dovetailors?
I like the responsibility that comes with the job. I enjoy it when the workshop is busy and it’s really satisfying to successfully complete a project for a customer and deliver it on time. I also like the variety of my role – one minute I’m discussing designs, the next I’m making.
Which Dovetailors project stands out as one of your favourites and why?
The war memorial plaque we made for The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies of Edinburgh’s University is one of my favourites. It was interesting looking into the history for this project and it was such an honour to work on.
How would you describe your furniture making style?
I like to say “let the wood do the talking”, by which I mean let the wood be a feature in a well-designed piece. The wood characteristics are a part of the piece.
Is there any particular wood or technique that you like working with best?
I really love burr elm. I think it’s awesome. And I like the technique of book matching in veneering. It is hard to do and when it is done well it looks really nice.
Do you have a favourite design period in history?
Not really. I tend to like rustic style furniture but not those that are badly made. Quality is a important aspect for me.
What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in furniture or product design?
Learn to pay attention to detail. Aim for the best but also learn about what matters according to the piece you are making. Some pieces require exceptional attention to detail whilst some others will need less.
Also, furniture making is a career not just a job. Do it because you love it not just because you need a job. It takes a long time to learn to do well but it is very satisfying.
Describe Dovetailors in three words
Active – innovative – thrilling