In a previous blog post where I wrote about How I afford my Tools, I had an amazing response from you guys which was incredibly humbling. I really didn't expect the response I got. So thank you! For me, it was great to be able to offload information that doesn't necessarily fit into my normal content. And there are plenty of other similar subjects that I'm patiently waiting to surface in this blog.
The other advantage to writing these posts is that I have something I can easily refer people to when the question arises again. Which is the main reason I originally wrote the post How did I afford my tools?
One of the main sources of criticism I receive from new viewers is ‘Why should I listen to him? What does this kid know?!'
I will just clarify that this is very infrequent in the grand scheme of things and doesn't affect me at all. But in the pool of hate comments I do receive, it's pretty frequent. After a few years posting content on the internet, I have learnt to laugh and ignore nonconstructive criticism. But it did raise the question, how many of my regular viewers (who aren't as rude as the haters) would genuinely be interested in this?
So consider this my online CV!
Rycotewood Furniture Centre, Oxford | 2012 - 2017
I started Rycotewood fresh out of secondary school at the age of 16. All of my friends stayed studying in my hometown, Basingstoke. So it was absolutely terrifying for an introvert like myself making this leap into the unknown. In these years, I learnt from a variety of highly skilled tutors with a ton of industry experience. Not to mention the support and motivation the other students and friends on the course provided.
Fun fact: The projects I teach in the Free Online Woodworking School are the exact same projects I learnt at Rycotewood!
City and Guilds Furniture Making Level 1, 2 and 3 | 2012 - 2014
In the first year of Rycotewood, I studied Level 1 and 2 Furniture Making. In this year, we made the Dovetail Box and the Cabinet. The second year at Rycotewood was solely focused on Level 3 where we made a games box and a Curved Front Side Table.
Foundation Degree: Furniture Design and Make | 2014 - 2016
After completing Level 3 Furniture Making, I progressed onto the 2 year Foundation Degree. In the second year, I made Scriptylia and later in the year I made Cognition. Which was the first ever series I filmed for YouTube.
Bachelor of Arts Degree: Furniture Design and Make | 2016 - 2017
I then progressed onto the BA Degree where in the first half of the year I made my Krenov Cabinet. Then in the second half of the year, my final project at Rycotewood after 5 years of study was Bertha. This was based on my dissertation subject ‘Can you make a living from social media as a furniture maker?' It seems I'm still experimenting with that topic now.
Axminster Tools and Machinery, Basingstoke | 2013 - 2018
While studying Level 3 Furniture Making at Rycotewood, Axminster Tools and Machinery opened a store in my hometown, Basingstoke. After spamming them via social media, email and even phone, I managed to get a weekend job there. I did this every weekend for 5 years and loved every second of it. The team I worked with was amazing, the company cared about their employees, the customers were
always often enthusiastic and loved spending time in the store, and I learnt so much in the process. What I will say is that the weekend shifts didn't leave a lot of time for socialising, but I tried to fit it in where possible. It just meant that I had to endure my fair share of hungover Sunday shifts after a 4am finish on Saturday night.
I attribute much of my tool and brand knowledge to the 5 years I spent at Axminster. Rycotewood provided me the practical knowledge five days a week. Axminster provided the theory knowledge 2 days a week.
I left Axminster in the final few days of 2018 and actually shed a tear upon getting into my car after my last shift. The company and my colleagues did so much for me not only when it came to training, opportunities and motivation. But also for supporting my future goals with the channel and giving me the space and resources to make it possible.
New English Workshop | 2014
In the summer after finishing Level 3 Furniture Making at Rycotewood, I enrolled on a course with the New English Workshop where we made an Anarchists Tool Chest. This was taught by Chris Schwarz and was the perfect preparation for the Foundation Degree I was due to start a few months later.
I credit most of my online tutorials regarding sawing and dovetailing to this course with Chris. While my technique has slightly developed over the years since, the basic principles he taught are still ingrained in what I do.
Woodworking Evening Classes | 2017 - 2019
After completion of the Bachelor of Arts Degree, I was sponsored a workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre for a year (See About for more details)
During this year, I began teaching woodworking evening classes at Rycotewood which gave me a soft introduction into the world of face to face teaching. Which was terrifying but an invaluable experience. In the second year of teaching evening classes, I also begun teaching City and Guilds Level 1, 2 and 3 Furniture Making. The exact same course I studied in 2012-14!
City and Guilds Tutor at Rycotewood Furniture Centre, Oxford | 2018 - Present
In September 2018, I was taken on as a tutor for City and Guilds Furniture Making at Rycotewood. I teach the exact same projects and lessons as I learnt all those years ago and am beginning to filter these into my Free Online Woodworking School. This not only allows my students and future students to have revision material at their fingertips. But also means that everyone with an internet connection can benefit!
I use Rycotewood for two reasons. Firstly it gives me a fixed income that is predictable each month as my main business can be more volatile than the stock market. Secondly, it gives me an insight into what beginners struggle with and allows me to find out what works best for them. Also, it means I can talk to actual faces as opposed to a camera lens!
Fun Fact: Between September and December 2018, I taught at Rycotewood 3 days a week which started at 8:30am. Although 2 of these days also included evening classes meaning Tuesday and Wednesday were 21:00pm finishes. On the Thursday and Friday I was filming videos for YouTube in my workshop. On Saturday and Sunday I was working at Axminster. And in the evenings between all of this, I was planning and editing videos, building my website, attempting to go to the gym, and sometimes even going back to the workshop to film more… Seriously. Have a look at the eye bags in my Ultimate Power Tool Workbench Series. It was a difficult few months!
I occasionally demonstrate at events on behalf of companies such as Axminster and will provide tutorials on a range of subjects such as hand tools, woodworking techniques, and talks on woodworking theory. Note: I only associate myself with companies who's product or services I believe in. They are also fully aware that my advice is impartial and I will point customers in another direction if the tools I am demonstrating are not suitable. I have demonstrated at many events, most notably the Newark woodworking show in 2019 with Axminster. And the North of England woodworking show with Veritas Tools in 2018.
I am now a full-time content creator on YouTube where I teach tutorials and projects as well as conduct reviews and training on tools and machinery. My main aim with the channel is to get younger people into woodworking. Whether it's as a full-time career or small side hustle, or even just something they do on the side. I think everyone should be able to make something with their hands. And what better time to start learning than at a young age when you have all the time in the world!
My aim in the future is to be a full time content creator with my eggs in multiple baskets. What I mean by this is have consistent output of YouTube videos and written articles, while also doing things like freelance demonstrations, designing and manufacturing my own line of tools, and constantly expanding my knowledge in other fields.
I don't want to be pigeonholed into woodworking for not only my sanity, but also incase there is something else out there for me! This is why I am making the Free Online Woodworking School! I want to ensure all my knowledge is instantly available to everyone who needs it, forever. No matter what I happen to be doing in the future.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions about anything in this post, please don't hesitate to comment them below!