About Simon and about this blog
The following stories were collected over the past seventy years and mostly relate to building wooden boats and furniture plus the occasional house and its contents (see ‘Building a Houseful of Furniture, Taunton Press, 1983) I was trained in England as a civil engineer but emigrated to Canada in 1953 with the ink on my diploma barely dry.
Engineer to Woodworker
I got a job designing highways and timber bridges for the British Columbia Forest Service but after four years I realized that I was much better suited to working at a smaller scale--items I could make myself such as furniture. I had no training in this field but learned by working alongside artisans that knew a great deal more than I did. Eventually I set up shop in Vermont, making furniture when it was ordered but kept food on the table by doing all kinds of repair work. Fine Woodworking magazine had just made its appearance and I started writing articles on current furniture projects. In 1983 Taunton Press commissioned me to collect 43 pieces of furniture and publish the designs in the book mentioned above. By this time, 1966, we had acquired an island home in Nova Scotia and were spending the long summer holidays there. To run the shop while I was gone I engaged a British woodworker, David Powell, who had served a four years apprenticeship with Edward Barnsley--at the time one of the foremost furniture makers in the UK. David.had the training I lacked but I had a functioning woodworking business so it was an ideal arrangement.
|Middle Island workshop with the Silver Thread under construction|
Nova Scotia House
Boats had always been a part of my life--even as a child--so the winter of 1989 I took three months off and was hired by Joel White at the Brooklinn boatyard in Maine. This experience just whetted my appetite so I moved to Nova Scotia to learn lapstrake boatbuilding from two of the older practitioners--you’ll you'll find several stories describing these experiences. We built a large workshop on Middle Island and use it for building an occasional new boat as well as repair and maintenance of the existing fleet. Although the island has no power we make do with a generator for woodworking and solar panels for lights. You’ll find plans and building instructions on our website for six of the lapstrake boats and about 45 furniture designs.
I'm always glad to hear from people embarking on any of these projects--preferably with photos. Email me or give me a ring at: 415 637 3410 EST. Now back to writing my next blog!