When I started out building workbenches I didn’t have any plan or know if they could be sold. My workshop could hardly be called more than a shed in the garden and was severely under equipment for such hefty work but no one could tell me it wouldn’t work. I was already well and truly committed to a life of hardship trying to earn a living with my hands building furniture and odd joinery work. Even today the furniture is where my heart is but the ‘real’ woodwork commissions I loved to do were few and far between tireless enquires for MDF wardrobes painted to match ‘this’.
I built one workbench after another spurred on to try out a new design and test the result. I had to choose between putting our last bit of money in to a new tool or some more wood for another prototype. I remember one compromise when I bought in softwood for a base and glued together all the thin bits of beech that were left over from the last bench so that I could at least make a good heavy top.
My parents moved house last week and when I popped round to help I was reminded of this time when we uncovered the grave yard of early workbenches I’d burdened them with. Dust covered and neglected the benches were still as stout as the day they were built and had some of the best memories for me. Though my first workbenches these are still amongst my most ambitious yet; built at a time when I knew anything was possible and I didn’t care if I was re-sawing by hand out in the rain or gluing up at two in the morning because that happened to be when I was most awake. It was these workbenches that taught me my hardest and most important lessons and it wasn’t because they were built in the perfect environment but because they weren’t.
With perfect timing I got a further reminder in the form of an email. Edward had purchased a workbench from me back in 2009 when he was studying product design. The email was as follows:
I am hoping that perhaps you remember me. I purchased a stunning 6′ Modern Workhorse workbench of yours in 2009 which you delivered to me in Wimbledon.
I am writing first to let you know that the workbench is of course still absolutely amazing and is a treasured possession of mine. I am also writing because I thought you might be interested in seeing a design & make project I have carried out for almost 2 years using your workbench.
This design & make project has involved being in my shed (my small workshop) where I have prototyped furniture and homewares concepts.
I would absolutely love it if you could perhaps take a look at this work and perhaps let me know what you think of it. I aspire to your level of skill and it would be great to get some feedback from a master woodworker.
The current line up of workbenches on your site look better than ever. I completely love the ‘Little John’ workbench – I would order that now if I could!
I look forward very much to hearing back from you.
I certainly remembered Edward as I somehow got lost for about a day in London trying to make delivery and of course being a real man I took no navigation equipment other than a world atlas!
I took a look at Edwards work and by the end of a lengthy video I felt inspired to share it with you. Edward isn’t building entirely from wood and his designs are certainly unique. I didn’t watch and feel I wanted to make them as my methods are at a completely different end of the spectrum. But I did feel a need to take some time out and contemplate the memories it had brought back; those days when nothing was set up right but nothing was going to stop me either. I especially enjoyed watching the many different techniques that Edward used to exit his workshop. I know it won’t hit you the same as me but if you have the time to take a look you will certainly see the enthusiasm and determination of one young man.
A big thanks Edward and keep on going.