Lifetimber is a happy accident in some ways. Before Lifetimber, for many years, I worked full time in education, teaching science to 11 to 18-year olds and specialising in the pastoral care of young people. I really enjoyed the challenges and unpredictability of teaching until 2018, when a combination of circumstances made it time to refocus my energy and take a new path.
My passion for woodwork has always been there, but my single-minded drive to achieve the very best for the young people in my care left little time for anything else. After suffering nerve damage in my shoulder and years of chronic pain, I was eventually diagnosed with depression and was advised to take an extended break from teaching to focus on my own wellbeing. Confronting the fact that I was unwell led to my withdrawal from the community and society.
Never one to be able to sit still, but for the first time in my life finding it hard to be with people, I retreated to my windowless garage and built a wooden bench. The passion was back; my never-ending desire to learn and improve gave me a new purpose. Feeling in control of my surroundings and having a plan to move forwards was the true start of my recovery. First came some windows for the garage (handmade from second life timber and reclaimed glass) and the workshop and the core ideals of Lifetimber grew from there. Now I work full time from my workshop to produce beautiful products.
Whenever possible in Lifetimber products I use second-life timber: wood that has had a previous life as something else, is salvaged or is waste or offcuts from other woodworkers. In many respects, Lifetimber works the wrong way round. That is, we don’t purchase wood for our clients and commissions, instead we match the beautiful woods we have in our care to our projects.
Most of the wood that I use is reclaimed or offcut hardwoods that are naturally slow growing. This timber is always beautiful and often has character that means it was hard for others to use.
I work with the natural beauty of the wood, highlighting, celebrating and enhancing the natural flaws, knots and patina. We have a huge amount of respect for the wood that we use and we constantly drive to waste nothing. All of the offcuts from the larger pieces (furniture, boxes and artworks) are carefully saved and used to make our smaller items (e.g. our coasters and jewellery).
When we can’t make something beautiful from the remaining timber (like the sawdust), we still save and store it then use it to heat the house and workshop.