Colwin has been a woodturning tutor with Axminster Tools since 1998. His interest in woodturning started at school where he first had the chance to use a lathe, he has been turning ever since. Here we find out what his inspirations are and what he enjoys making most.
What courses do you teach?
I teach eight different woodturning courses from beginner through to advance. They range from a novice turning course to making German Christmas nutcrackers. I also co-tutor a Windsor chair making course as well as other chair making courses.
How did you get started out in woodturning?
I started when I was 13 at school in woodworking lessons. I liked it so much that for work experience I went to a local woodturning workshop. Shortly after, I bought my first lathe and woodturning became my hobby. On leaving school I served a five year apprenticeship at that same woodturning workshop.
How long have you been a woodturning tutor?
I’ve been teaching for 26 years. Firstly as a self-employed turner and for the last 21 years with Axminster Tools.
What do you enjoy making the most?
I love everything about Christmas. I especially love the creations by the incredible craftspeople of the Erzgebirge region of Germany. It’s things like German nutcrackers, Christmas pyramids and German smokers that I enjoy making most.
What are your favourite tools?
The skew chisel is where my passion lies and I find myself preaching and teaching this where ever I go. No matter what language is used in the country I’m demonstrating, a catch from the skew sounds the same!
One of my favourite demonstrations is called the “Taming of the Skew”.
What, or who has inspired you?
I think anyone who turns will have a similar answer. Turning is just so addictive and inspiration changes all the time. I love traveling to other countries and meeting other turners and discovering the turning history in their country. The people who’ve inspired me are numerous. In the early days, it was people like Ray Key, Bert Marsh and Alan Batty. Then Mike Mahoney, Binh Pho, Nick Agar and Michael Hosaluk. I’m currently into the work of Yann Marot and Greg Gallegos.
What do you do when you’re not teaching?
I’m a maker as well so when I’m not teaching I make. You might call it an addiction and it probably is, I guess there are worse things to be addicted to! I also like kayaking, fishing, walking, cycling, and running. Living on the Jurassic Coast in the South West of England gives you a great playground if you’re into anything to do with the sea or seashore. I also like a beer or two with friends, I’m lucky to have some great alehouses and breweries on my doorstep
What is the best advice you have ever been given and by who?
Sorry, I’m going to give three pieces of advice so take your pick.
- Keep it simple stupid – Ray Key
- Just because something makes you nervous don’t let that put you off – Geoff Manley, my boss when I was an apprentice
- Never say no to an opportunity – Colwin Way
Colwin is featuring in our Skill Centre At Home video series.
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