TOM WINFIELD

TOM WINFIELD Follow

Homo Faber 🔨
I run a small design & build studio working on a variety of projects.

http://www.tomsworkshop.uk/

502 Followers  151 Follow

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"Do what you love.
Know your own bone;
gnaw at it,
bury it,
unearth it,
and gnaw it still."
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Henry David Thoreau
(Walden, Life in the Woods - Chapter V, 1854)
#japanesesaw
Build: Dart House
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Great to see our @phhomes @carpenteroak structural framework going together and progress on the Dart House site by main contractor team www.waterheadprojects.co.uk. The aggregate of geometric forms and contrasting elevations now clearly making up distinct quarters for living and sleeping.
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Although laminated construction timbers theoretically engineer all the variability out, the reality of working on site and exposure to the elements mean they are still variable products. Timber is a variable product!
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I thought the engineered components and precision of a pre-cut frame might negate some of the workmanship necessary - much of carpentry is, after all, knowing how to select, work with, and manage variability. The benefits are becoming clear here though, like any prefabricated structure: Greater accuracy, less time in build, and likely an easier job when it comes to finishing and fit out.
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#passivhaus
Build: Winton Stair
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Pausing install while damp plaster firms up. Chance for a bit of a tidy and a stand back. Lacking in personality and character right now, I am anticipating this will be a really calm and welcoming living space for the family.
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The stairs are a devil 🙈 as they will be viewed from all corners!
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@andykirbyarchitect
#modernstair #staircase
Build: Winton stair (tread stacking OCD)
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My logic for the relief cuts, on the underside, was to control the inevitable warp of the tread. By encouraging the treads to crown, instead of cup, the front of the tread, where the main loading is, will tighten down on, and be resisted by, the bottom of the stringer housing at each end. Stopping any creak.
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They will be wedged in the back too.
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In my ongoing apprenticeship I could hardly avoid making a toolbox. Although my enthusiasm for hand-cutting dovetails is definitely waining this evening - I confess.
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But I am enjoying the hard-won satisfaction and various perils of pairing brittle chestnut end grain. As the chances of a mistake ruining the work increase, the more respect and awareness I bring to the relationship. If I can go against the grain then surely the grain can go against me.
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Craftsman and designer David Pye, in his theory on making, developed the concept of 'workmanship of risk'. An uncouth but insightful description. Since the beginning, we have innately appreciated and cherished a quality of craft which is not pre-determined, but depends on the judgement, dexterity and care which the maker exercises as he works. Once habitualised and unconscious it seems masterful, mysterious even. I get a similar sense of awe when looking out at the ocean and from the vantage of mountain tops. The forces of nature, the forces of life, make beauty so effortlessly and rigorously. A creative intention, gracefully revealed in material by man or woman, to me, bears the same signs. The divine spark?
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In the age of digital and nano-technology, as we play with the atomic building blocks of the universe, workmanship of this kind is still as present and relevant. We need it, it inspires us. The more I use machines to cut and shape wood, the more I want to slow-down, sharpen an iron, and not cut corners. It is why working in the built environment is a responsibility. It is why I try to never compromise or dilute my work because of money or cultural pressures. It is why I recognise the selflessness, passion, commitment and skill of all those quietly doing something well, for the sake of doing it well.
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#craftsmanshipisrisk (hashtag inspiration from @beardedwitch)
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#tomsworkshop #designandbuild #engineering #timberfabrication #design #craftsmanship #carpentry #joinery #keepcraftalive #moderncraftsmen #handmade #woodworking #woodgrain #designandmake #bespoke #interiordesign #wabisabi #woodart #finewoodworking #precision #furnituremaker #dovetail #artisan #craft #craftsmanship #madebyhand #tradition
Build: Winton Stair
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I have chosen some hard-wearing, locally grown, Ash for the treads; the pink and bronze 'olive' hues will add a subtle tone and character. Here the boards are machined and matched in pairs ready for glue up.
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@andykirbyarchitect
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#stairs #customstair #furnituredesign #finefurniture
Inquiry: R&D
Engineered LVL (laminated veneer lumber) beams matched for assembly alongside a traditionally jointed solid wood oak frame.
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If it is true that traditional skills, arts, crafts, and folk wisdom is our basic human wealth, and the chief insurance policy of a culture, then we are in big trouble. The scientific underpinning of society, politics, and industry often seem unable to escape a core bias that any problems brought by more sophisticated technology can be remedied by more technology.
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I think anyone engaging and interacting with tradition, like @carpenter_oak, are well placed to integrate new and old; and critically question basic assumptions about how new tools and technology relate to our larger purposes and prospects.
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Work you could call philosophical R&D.
Blushing spring light, high on the frosty hills above the village of Cornworthy at the @carpenter_oak yard today, starting production on a new venture and collaboration in timber fabrication together with phhomes.co.uk.
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Traditional skills, structural composites, digital manufacturing, affordability. Timber frames for the people.
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Looking forward to where this path leads.
Next Project: Winton Stair
CAD or line drawing? Or fundamentally different tools?
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I often wonder about the haptic qualities of sketching and drawing. How might I have connected to this object and the space though the hand and the pencil? Speaking to both the body and mind, not just the eye. Hand-drawn lines can convey passion, emotion, richness, meaning. CAD on the other hand is a fundamentally different tool which always risks flattening my multi-sensory capacity, imagination, and reducing design to a mere visual survey - pretty pictures upon which I am disposed to trust implicitly!
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I am not tech-bashing; precision and performance are crucial to my work, but only in response to the delights and freedoms of obscurity and ambiguity. Like many of us, I am aware of early childhood messages of right and wrong, which no doubt hinder me in my creativity. My own hand is a naturally hesitant animal that needs care and encouragement.
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CAD has been a powerful aid here though. By constraining the underlying geometry parametrically I can make slight alterations to lengths, thicknesses, and widths to suit my materials and know that it will still comply with regulations. Truly labour saving then.
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I have not been sharing much work recently but have been encouraged by a friend to chart the journey more. Great to be working with @andykirbyarchitect too, joyfully geeking out on the details.
#stairs #customstair #boutiquerail #furnituredesign #finefurniture
Anderson Shelter: A little winter weekend project to store our bikes (and bee hives @thewayislinedwithtrees).
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Made in individual lightweight 2 x 1m panel sections, it can be packed down and carried easily by one person - anticipating when we move and hopefully buy our own place. Clad with home grown red cedar, board-on-board, and corrugated sheets redolent of nearby agricultural buildings. Onduline roofing sheets get a bad reputation; but if installed well and out of continual wetting lasts decades, and they are made from recycled cardboard. I would not put them on a house but for this ideal.
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Swipe left to see our house - a converted root cellar barn. Doesn't look like it, but the first warm kisses of Spring are eagerly upon us.
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#airbnbthis #shed #shedporn #woodcave #theanatomyofsheds
IGdry January. Hibernation over. Grateful to @neilmckinlay for his warming sense of humour this winter, follow this guy for some true news. Hollywood called yet mate?
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"No one does anything in January" in Devon I was told soon after I moved here and I can see why. I think today is the first day in two months it has not rained.
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That was over 2 years ago, about the time I completed my first commission, for @schumachercollege. It was an honour to leave a small legacy at this inspiring and necessary place. Green chestnut and oak, all from woodland on the @dartingtonarts estate, minutes from the college. I know these stairs have given joy to many people (thanks @gavinblenchart) and I have learnt a lot since then.
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Structurally and creatively challenging, I often wonder about my path from working at the pinnacle of design and engineering to carpenter. And then it registers; back then, of course, I never got to make a damn thing. And if you ask me, with some sadness, that sometimes feels tragic to the young man I was. Carpenters are not the only makers but I know the music of tools working well and precise so satisfy me, that there is more to pleasure than just form and function, my senses are delighted by wood worked well. Tender grain and delicate fibres when forced sound like a tune out of key.
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I believe now that the human hand is a knowing entity, my own sense of beauty and judgement, even ethics, are firmly grounded in my senses. Not my intelligence. We live in our bodies and felt sense of each other, in the same way we have inhabited them for thousands of years. I rarely remember what someone said but remember the experience of the conversation. The tangible or visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling expressed through the body is primary and how we connect to the world. As Glaston Bachelard wrote about imagination: 'Even the hand has its dreams...'
Signing out for 2017, wishing you joyful festivities and gratitude for all for your support and kindness - it is welcome and appreciated. And what of this years teachings?

Well, I thought being myself and finding purpose might get a little easier? Michael Meade often talks about 'genius'; not something we name the few, but something for us all. Everyone and everything. In old Latin it meant ‘spirit present from one's birth'. Like all species we are born with a role, an ecological niche, to take a very specific place in the greater story of life. To be fully and uniquely ourselves is like becoming a poem, a unique expression, the gift of which can never be fixed by cultural categories and terms. And as Martha Graham put it: "It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions." So more of that next year please, good and not so good.

Truth is the strongest medicine... Along with vintage Port. 🌲

#wintertime #wintersolstice #itschristmas