I've wanted to do this for so long. I sort of knew how to do it too. I just didn't quite know exactly what it was.
I quit my well paid day job at the end of January 2020. Just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic became big news. I'd been in that job for 18 years, through two acquisitions and many changes of focus. I wrote computer software for desktop and for the web and I was pretty good at it. But the more I found my feet in that industry the more I felt at sea. The trouble was I didn't have a better plan, and frankly after 18 years I was getting paid well enough to just float through the troughs.
This isn't going to be a life history. I'm sure nobody wants that. But I've been fascinated with art and wood since I was a kid. My mother was aghast that my father, a foundry man and fellow tinkerer, would allow me free reign of his workshop. I spent many happy hours shaping blocks of pine with his linishing belt and files. My father didn't have much to teach me about working wood specifically. But he impressed on me a healthy respect of machinery and the knowledge that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. He did teach me about art – he was a draftsman and a talented sculptor as well.
I was also obsessed with computers as a child growing up in the '80s and especially with computer graphics - from very early TV demonstrations of displays with actual real colour, up to the present phenomenal power in everybody's pockets. So I ended up in the graphics industry and I've learned a few of the techniques and some of the mathematics that are required over the years.
We moved out of the big city a few years ago, shed the mortgage and settled in the country in a house big enough to hold all our hobbies. I started playing with robots then and steadily got more serious. Mostly making birthday presents for my boys – first with the 3D printer and then with the CNC router.
Now I'm working out ideas in sculpting and drawing software and making them real with the CNC and a laser cutter. Seeing those virtual ideas emerge from solid blocks of beautiful woods is pure magic. And because the machines, although accurate and fast, are still just dumb motors driven by mathematics, they still need the hand-made touch. I get to joint blanks for cutting boards or boxes by hand, file, sand, plane and finish them into useful and friendly things.
So here I am. Doing what I want in what's probably the worst time in recent memory to switch careers and start from scratch. But it still feels like the right thing to do. All my twists and turns in life seem to be pointing me in the same direction.
I'm launching Lake Edge Wood to make hand-made things. I'll be drawing, sculpting, designing, engineering, planing, gluing, oiling, painting, marketing, photographing, web-designing, accounting and possibly occasionally sleeping for the next little while. If it works the reward will be to make a living creating things for people to love and cherish and pass on to their children.
Here's hoping that you are all hale and hearty and finding a way to thrive at home with your loved ones. Stay safe.