My name is Viv Mitchell and I love woodwork. I’m based in Winnersh, Berkshire, UK.
I’ve got a thing about organising things. I wouldn’t dignify this tendency by calling it a ‘passion’, it’s more a besetting sin. But you can’t put everything in its place until you’ve got a place for everything, and because most of us are living in smaller spaces than our parents did, every inch counts. Hence the name and the strapline.
I’ve been doing woodwork all my life, but in a very amateur sort of way. I’ve never had a woodworking lesson, except when I signed up to a 2-day course at Axminster Power Tools after I started every-inch. I made a friend there, but the course, like so many of that kind of thing, was basically a showcase for the kit with a view to sending you away with a carload of new stuff. That particular course was discontinued soon afterwards. I learnt something, as I always do when I pay attention, but on the whole it’s very hard to design a course for people who’ve been doing it in their own way for years.
Mostly it’s been a case of figuring out how to do things as I go along. I find that very satisfying – who cares if others have discovered it before me? You can spend your life searching the Web and still end up improvising in your own way.
I started every-inch when I retired from my tech writer job in 2009. The idea was to create a company to cover any sales for tax purposes, but basically to make stuff for the house and for friends. So far everything I’ve done has been either given away as a gift or sold at mates rates. I’m happy with that; I see it as a learning curve. The thing has to evolve; you can’t do it all from scratch overnight. But the more I’ve learnt, the more tools I’ve accumulated and the vast majority have turned out to be money well spent.
I specialise in the kind of furniture that you can’t get in Ikea because it has to fit in a non-standard space. As a self-confessed bleeding heart liberal I’m not in it for the money, but a commission has to at least pay for itself. I’m still finding that there’s something new to learn with every new project. I expect that will continue for the rest of my life.
I’ve also started woodturning, since Christmas 2013. I find it wonderfully therapeutic, although the lathe does spring its surprises now and then. There’s no shortage of wood, and I’ll examine any piece of firewood before it goes in the fire. There’s no need to buy blanks: just let people know that you are a woodturner and it comes your way. That helps to foster a relaxed attitude to whatever’s on the lathe; it’s all disposable because there’s always the fire. The shavings mix very nicely with grass cuttings on the compost heap.
Being self-taught has meant that I’ve learnt things that don’t seem to be mentioned in any of the woodworking forums, or they’re so obvious that they are second nature to the true craftsman, so not considered worth mentioning. So my blog posts are from the point of view of a beginner, encountering the problem for the first time. One of the great joys of woodworking is the scope for improvisation, making it up as you go along.