My first frame was built in a field with no experience, few tools and a copy of Ted Bensons ‘Building the Timber Frame House’. This simple frame now provides a pleasant shelter for me and my family in Dunlavin, Co.Wicklow. Building my timber frame home saw me fall back in love with wood and woodwork, in particular this primal art that has been employed by kings, craftsmen and peasants alike for thousands of years.
My earliest memories of wood are of hammering nails through a couple of pieces lying on the floor of my fathers shed and examining them curiously to feel the strength, weight and all the other sensory things that children do with natures most-used and most-often overlooked material. I can remember a certain dissatisfaction with the appearance of the nails and the solidity of the join before discarding it for another effort.
In my adolescence it was the woodwork room in school which hooked me-a heavy desk with a good vice and rows of sharp chisels neatly stacked away in glass cabinets. I took great pleasure from this working environment and didn’t miss an opportunity to stay in during lunch or after to school to help people with their projects in a room dedicated to precision, creativity and patient concentration.
Whilst serving my apprenticeship in carpentry I was fortunate enough to work on a wide variety of projects from Georgian houses, one-off country houses, housing estates and large industrial building sites. Carried along in a wave of high spending, lots of building and even more haste, I gradually lost any sense of the joy of woodwork doomed to being hidden by concrete, PVC and plasterboard.
Designing and building frames encompasses the things I love most about wood. Having lived and worked within the elegant confines of a traditional frame I am a firm believer in their potential for inspiration, efficiency as a structure and importance for the future. My nails are now made of wood, the joints are strong enough to carry enormous loads and I play like a child amid shavings and sharp blades with the smell of fresh wood in my nostrils.