The year that was, and the year that will be

And with that, another year draws to a close. I remember in last year’s review that time was speeding up, and it feels like 2018 passed by in the blink of an eye.


That “top 9” thing every one does on Instagram. Apparently you good folk like dovetails, staked furniture, and vintage Starrett layout tools.

What we leave behind

I don’t subscribe to the idea of “good” or “bad” years – 365 days is such a large expanse of time that all years encompass a range of events and emotions. 2018 was no exception, and it presented some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced to date, along with some genuinely incredible experiences. To read about the challenges you’ll have to wait for my memoires to be published, so let’s have a look at the highlights.


This is my favourite detail – the leg tenon entering the batten. Just a little hint of the, compound angles, and lovely facets. I could look at this element of the desk all day.

2018 was the year I finally dipped my toe into chair making, and found it to be completely addictive – there is definitely going to be a lot more chairmaking in my future. I completed the staked worktable at which I am writing right now, my first campaign stool (a furniture form I’ve wanted to build for four years), and the saw cabinet. On the “almost completed” list goes the boot bench (which as of today is in use, and just needs the drawer before I can tick it off as done) and the Apprentice’s Stick Chair (which needs a new crest rail). I wrote my first collaborative article, with good friend Richard Wile, had a number of articles published in Furniture & Cabinetmaking, and two published in Popular Woodworking. I also wrapped up my research for the Life & Work of John Brown. On the skills front, I started to get to grips with the lathe, and also spent time working on my photography.


I didn’t blog as much as I wanted to last year and for the first time in the five years of this blog I didn’t manage to keep up with my regular weekly schedule, mainly due to the rigours of daily life. Despite that, the blog readership stayed steady, and I’m determined to get back to weekly updates this year. Thank you to everyone who has stuck by the blog during the fallow patches.

Of course, no end of year review is complete without a top five albums list, so here is mine (in order):

  1. Years” – Sarah Shook & The Disarmers (who incidentally put on one of the best shows of my entire life, in November);
  2. Lush” – Snail Mail;
  3. What a Time to Be Alive” – Superchunk;
  4. How to Socialise & Make Friends” – Camp Cope; and
  5. Brass Against” – Brass Against.

What 2019 holds in store

The coming twelve months already offer much to look forward to. I’ve got a full slate of articles lined up, including a multi-part series for Funiture & Cabinetmaking, and a really interesting piece for Popular Woodworking. In the coming weeks I will be announcing my first class (a five day hand tool extravaganza involving two of my favourite projects), as well as a very exciting new project I’ll be working on with Chris Schwarz.


Continuing my recent trend of only attending shows in odd-numbered years, in March I’ll be attending the East Midlands show in Newark (many thanks to Classic Hand Tools for inviting me down as part of their section), so if you plan on coming to that do swing by and say hello!

In terms of projects, the centre piece this year will be my Roubo bench build, and also building the boarded book case from the Anarchist’s Design Book for my study. I also need to build a steam box to finish off the Apprentice’s Stick Chair, and want to keep the chair building going alongside the other projects – I have a couple of Welsh Stick chairs rattling round my head that really need to be built.


All that remains is to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Thank you for reading the blog over the past twelve months, it is incredibly humbling and heartwarming to know that folk are interested in what I post here.


As of today the boot bench is loaded with shoes and in use. I just need to finish off the drawer before I can call it done.

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