A light hearted look at life and woodworking (and other interesting observations…)


Hello and welcome to my first blog for Cairn Wood Design.  I am Andy Williamson and together with my wife Eeva (that’s us in the photo) we launched our on-line company Cairn Wood Design in April 2012.  What prompted this sudden change of occupation you may ask (I was previously a training manager in the marine industry)?  Let’s just say that an opportunity arose with my old employ that I couldn’t refuse and it gave me the chance to throw all my energies into my passion for WOODWORKING.  I can almost hear the screams of despair (or is it laughter) from some of you readers who either may have attempted this leap of faith themselves or have heard about the warnings that it ain’t easy to make a living from your hobby.

eeva and andrew

Yep, I’ve heard all those warnings too but equally you won’t make a success of a business if you are not PASSIONATE about what you are doing.  I’ve read a lot about starting a business and I would suggest, if you considering this route, that you do your research too.  Try this article from The Design Trust (www.thedesigntrust.co.uk) “Why ‘turning your passion into a profit’ isn’t necessarily a good thing” and if you are still enthusiastic after reading then go for it.

One of the first things anyone starting a business needs to do (you will learn) is write a Business Plan.  OK, that shouldn’t be so difficult – I know what I’m going to make.  So, let’s see.  Step 1 – think up a good company name.  Mmmh, that will be easy, I’ll do that later.  Step 2 – Write down your mission statement.  Eh?  Yeah, yeah that will come later.  Step 3 – How much money will you make in the first year? Who will your clients be? How many products will you sell? How will you market yourself?  Aaaarghh!  I thought I was going to be a worker of wood when in fact I need to be a worker of miracles!  After much more reading and head scratching I ended up with a business plan, a headache and a bald patch!

Out in the workshop peace and calm settles around me as I sit on a stool clutching a cup of coffee and taking deep breaths.  My eyes rest on a notice pinned to the workshop door.  “A man’s house is his castle, but his workshop is his sanctuary” – how true.  This is where I can forget about the administration of the business and get to grips with the manufacturing.  Actually, my wife looks after the administration side much better than I would and she leaves the manufacturing to me so the partnership works well.  I am planning new products for Cairn Wood Design and since venturing into self employment I look at things differently now.  I wonder whether a product made from plastic or metal can be transformed if made from wood or if the design of something can be improved?  It’s a challenge I enjoy very much as I know there is a solution somewhere – I just need to work it out.  My sketch-pad sheets look more like doodles but believe me there might be a gem of an idea there somewhere!

I have made several pieces of furniture over the years and I have a particular liking for the simple lines and construction details of Arts and Crafts furniture.  But I’m not a slave to it and there are other styles out there that can equally appeal.  I greatly admire those woodworkers / cabinet makers who demonstrate real skill (whatever the style) and there are lots out there.  For example I am forever amazed at the marquetry work of Silas Kopf.  You can see an example of his works at www.silaskopf.com.  The more woodwork I do the more I appreciate the craftsmanship of such work.  Let me know who or what inspires you.

I’m also on the look out for interesting examples of furniture and other woodworking media through Pinterest – see an example below.  There is no set theme – there are just a bunch of photographs of whatever takes my fancy and you can see what these are by following this link http://www.pinterest.com/4ndyw/creative-woodwork.   There’s not much on the board yet but keep checking back to see what’s new.  Perhaps you can let me know what you like – or don’t like as the case may be!

salvaged birch branches

That’s all from me for now.  Let me know your experiences of starting a new business or what captivates your interest in the woodworking world.  My next blog will come out in about a month so until then keep chipping away!


P.S. While perusing an American woodwork magazine I came upon an advert for Laguna machinery which made me smile.  I’m sure they won’t mind me quoting their ad here.

“The fire glistened in the background.  She lay with her head in Ben’s lap, her blue eyes filled with love, love, love.  He looked happy, content and in love.

His eyes were glistening, his mouth smiling, and his mind was in the garage.  Now he had his dream shop, complete with award winning bandsaw, state-of-the-art table saw and cyclone dust collector from Laguna.

They both sighed with bliss” :-)