Getting to grips with woodwork
DAILY GRIND Master craftsman David Mead has carved a career out of woodwork. Reporter Jess Lee stopped by his workshop to find out why he thinks more people should get to grips with the trade.
Patience, some sharp tools and a can-do attitude are all you need in the world of woodwork, David Mead says.
‘‘If you don’t have razorsharp tools in woodwork forget it, it’s as simple as that. Wood is completely unforgiving.’’
The 69-year-old has been playing with timber since the age of three and by the age of 15 had learned how to build a state house from the ground up.
Today Mr Mead creates oneof-a-kind hand-crafted pieces of furniture in his Onehunga workshop.
He still uses one of the first pieces he made, a stepladder created 58 years ago.
But things in the industry aren’t up to scratch anymore, he says.
‘‘We’ve lost so much. It was William Morris, a co-founder of the arts and crafts movement, who said the machine will destroy the soul of man and I believe it’s happening.’’
The best education for youngsters looking to learn a trade was in the 1960s, he says.
He trained as an architectural draughtsman and under- took a cabinet-making apprenticeship in 1963 before working as a woodwork and technical drawing teacher for almost two decades.
A knack for craft runs in his family with a picture-framing father, a woodworking grandfather and now his son and daughter who are also handy with a chisel.
‘‘I’m not an artist,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s all about being handson and crafting useful artefacts rather than making things just to look at.’’
Soon his workshop will host up to 10 novice woodworkers for short courses to pass on his skills, from basic maintenance to creating pieces using only hand tools.
‘‘I can literally turn my hand to anything.’’
That is what’s unique about learning a trade, he says.
‘‘If you learn one trade thoroughly you can take those skills across most mediums.’’
He says there is no greater sense of achievement than making something with your own two hands.
‘‘There’s a lot of people who are dissatisfied with their jobs who end up in woodwork.’’
Hands-on: David Mead is hoping budding carpenters will try their hand at his woodworking course.