Are you interested in becoming a Joiner? Perhaps you wish to pursue a career in carpentry? Or maybe you’re exploring your potential career options, well if this is the case, we have the perfect blog post for you! As we interview a self-employed expert within the Woodworking Industry!
Introducing Andrew Walker- Local, Talented, Bespoke Carpenter
Bare brick walls with draping fairy lights, a luxurious log burner crackling away, intertwining with sounds of peace and tranquillity from the nature outdoors. I could have mistaken Andy Walker's workshop for a bespoke B&B. “How can this be somebody's office”...
With sawdust in the air, measurements on the chalkboards; and slices of oak stacked against the wall; I felt a gentle reminder that this quirky and unique space was in fact a place of work.
Andrew Walker has been working in this charismatic, cottage-like unit for over 5 years as a self-employed Bespoke Carpenter, working under the name of AWMAKER.
With a wealth of knowledge, experience and talent within the industry, the Loughborough-based creative, has an abundance of tales to tell. ToolFreak is thrilled to have teamed up with Andrew and we can’t wait to put pen to paper and bring his stories to life.
You can expect regular blog posts all about Andrew his life as a creative Carpenter, as well as his love for all things adrenaline. Whether it's a day in the life, or a mountaineering and motorbiking adventure, we are certain you will be in awe of this talented man and his engaging tales.
Before delving into Andrew's skills and explorations, we want you all to become well acquainted with the man himself, so please, sit back, relax, light a fire, grab a whisky (or whatever takes your fancy) and enjoy…
Andrew wears ToolFreak Rip Out Safety Glasses
Becoming a Bespoke Carpenter
From a very young age, Andrew aspired to work within a creative industry. At just 14, he found himself working part-time at a local hairdressing salon, just 1 year later, he progressed to a full-time role and left school, embarking on his journey into the world of work.
The young creative found himself juggling 3 different interests, “I was hairdressing by day, designing wood work at night and climbing up The Peak District on the weekends”, detailed Andrew.
“I saved up for my first lathe and saw, it took me a while; and I bought a budget one because money was tight but I was so happy because I could start building my very own designs”.
Andrew's Father witnessed his determination and diligence; and ensured that he had the guidance he needed to succeed. A friend of his father, Alan, was an ex war veteran and trained Carpenter, who taught a very young Andrew everything he needed to know about carpentry.
“He had an old fashioned way of teaching and I would often get a bollocking”, he chuckled. “His work was amazing, he had a tiny shed next to his terraced house, where he created a number of incredible pieces of woodwork, including, a huge welsh dresser, 13 grandfather clocks; and even a staircase”.
“I was extremely interested in Alan’s carving skills, he had such a skill for it and I wanted to know how to hand carve a name or detail as well as he could.
“To begin with, I would create coffee tables and draw and carve around leaves that had fallen from the trees the wood was taken from”, explained Andrew.
Andrew reminisced about his early days of learning and progressing. “I would work with Alan; and also spend my evenings in my own shed creating, making mistakes and most importantly... Learning! The shed must have been 2m by 2m in size, so it was a tight squeeze, I didn't have much room to manoeuvre, which was a challenge in itself”.
Growing within the Industry
As Andrew grew, so did his desire to buy a home and embark on the journey that is adulthood. This meant that his career path altered as he needed a sufficient income.
From working in a factory, to becoming a foreman on site, Andrew fulfilled a number of roles that taught him an endless list of skills and also gave him the opportunity to complete relevant college qualifications.
These jobs, as great as they were at times, did bring stress, as well as a 5 hour round trip commute, which is not ideal or enjoyable for anyone.
As time progressed, the Loughborough-based creative, grew more aware of his want to work alone. “After an altercation on site, I decided to quit my role as a site Foreman, it was a risk, but one I was willing to take
“I printed hundreds of leaflets off and my daughter and I began distributing these adverts to a long list of local, posh villages, in hope that someone would require my Carpentry services” Explained Andrew.
With little to no response from these adverts, Andy thankfully received an optimistic call to fit one kitchen, “this was the first of many jobs”....
This then led to the local carpenter becoming a contractor as his list of jobs grew in both size and demand. He found himself building extensions, completing kitchens; as well as many more large scale jobs.
While Andrew's work life remained extremely busy, he still made sure he had time for his passion, “Every house I lived in, I made sure I had my own workshop. Having these workshops was almost like a comfort blanket for me, as woodwork was something I could always come back to”.
Becoming Self Employed
Over the years, working alone as a bespoke carpenter remained a dream of Andrew's… Although he was in high demand as a contractor, his desire to go at it alone and creative bespoke pieces was still ever-growing. It was only 5 years ago that his dream became a reality and he began his one man bespoke band in the carpentry industry.
“I knew that I was going to struggle to begin with, but I began to design, create and sell my own furniture, 70% of my work to begin with was commissioned, but I am moving and growing towards all of my work being my very own designs, with my clients personalisation incorporated”.
The Highs and Lows
Since embarking on his self-employed journey, Andrew has certainly encountered his fair; and well… unfair share of highs and lows. “My greatest career highlight would have to be when I was asked to create colossal, wooden, dandelion sculptures”.
The Loughborough-based Carpenter was commissioned to design these plant-inspired pieces by a newly renovated spa. “This job required so much time and attention to detail
“Each dandelion was made up of wooden spheres, with perfect holes drilled into them, with 100 pieces of wood needed per plant
“The seeds were created by me individually boiling and bending 1.5ml plywood and each variant was different”.
As you can see from the photo above, this incredibly unique piece required impeccable attention to detail… “It was mind-blowing, still to this day, I find this piece remarkable”, explained Andrew.
Like anything in life, Andrew's self employed venture came with its trials and tribulations… “Logistics wise, I would say a difficult task for me, was creating a vast number of tables for a client based a few hours away”...
“My workshop is only small and some of the tables filled the parameter of the unit and the delivery of the pieces was pretty taxing”.
These problematic issues were just the starting point of the hurdles to come. “Not long after delivering the tables, I received a call from my clients, as one of the large tables I had created was placed in an air conditioned conference room, which meant the temperature caused the table to curl up”.
“I drove down, completed temperature checks; and began to work on fixing the piece, I had to cut grooves under the table and insert steel to pull and hold the wood down”... As inconvenient and frustrating this situation was, he certainly learned a lesson or two.
Creating unique and personalised pieces
Bespoke Carpentry is a beautiful art that is becoming increasingly popular, as people are now opting for originality over flatpack furniture. “The brilliant thing about bespoke Joinery is the fact that the products you see on my website for example, can simply be a base product,
“customers can add their own personal touch to every single product, making their furniture unique to them and their household”.
Today, Andrew creates a range of quirky pieces. From desks, to serving boards, to cabinets, to an array of artistic pieces.
Recently, the talented woodworker has focussed on creating smart and sophisticated desks that incorporate trend and practicality. “I think it’s vitally important to be innovative, so I create pieces of furniture that cater to modern technology”.
Andrew has commissioned desks that have charging points, kitchen units with electronics built in; as well as many more cool and creative pieces that put a twist on tradition.
Away from The Workshop
Outside of the office, Andrew maintains an active lifestyle and has a sense of adventure that is second to none. “I love taking trips on my motorbike up to Scotland, pitching up a tent, creating a fire and enjoying what this beautiful world has to offer”.
Through his love for adventure, Andy has found himself courageously climbing mountains in France, Switzerland and Norway (just to name a few). Now, this is just a little insight into Andrew's adventurous tales, you will have to keep reading these blog posts to find out more about this captivating carpenter.
We hope that you all feel acquainted with Andrew Walker, a man who can certainly teach us all a lesson, whether it be in the workshop or in life.
If you would like to take a look at Andrew's website, please click here!
Check out Andrew Walker’s Instagram page!
If you wish to contact Andrew for Bespoke Carpentry enquiries, click here.
If you have any questions or require further information, then please don't hesitate to get in touch, we would love to hear from you and answer any queries you may have.
Look out for new posts coming very soon! We look forward to Andrew teaching us carpentry tips and tricks; showing us what life is really like as a self employed Joiner, as well as finding out more about his love for adrenaline fuelled activities.
Keep your eyes peeled!
The ToolFreak Team
Author: Charlotte Longstaff