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From his workshop on a city farm in Islington, cabinetmaker and woodworker, Tom Trimmins, has been handcrafting stunning bespoke furniture and teaching woodworking courses, enabling others to develop their skills in the craft for over a decade.
Woodworking and cabinet-making is more than just a vocation for Tom, it is a lifelong passion. He was given his first work bench and real tools at 8 years old, developing his adoration for sculpture and making through school which was nurtured by his teachers. This then led to Tom doing a degree in Furniture Design and Craftsmanship at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College in High Wycombe, which is the traditional furniture-making capital of the UK. After graduating, he worked for a few renowned furniture companies, including the prestigious Lillyfee Woodcarving Studio, before starting his own business in 2009 that he runs today.
Teaching is a large part of Tom’s work which he enjoys. He runs evening classes for adults, woodland weekends, corporate days and volunteer-based projects. In fact, his classes were highly commended by the Craft Skills Awards in 2013. His furniture and home accessory pieces that he handcrafts combine traditional cabinet-making techniques, such as swallow-tail joints, with contemporary practices such as steam-bending which we love.
Tom cites that he favours working with hardwoods for his furniture pieces such as oak, ask and black walnut sourced from the UK, Europe and the USA but also likes to work with high quality soft woods such as Douglas Fir and Cedar. You can see Tom’s love for hardwoods in his beautiful steam-bent, looped pieces such as his trays, mirrors, shelves and plant hangers. He prefers to avoid using tropical hardwoods as he feels they are much better left in the rainforest, as do we, though of course they are fascinating for any timber enthusiast to admire.
Sustainability is a main concern to Tom which is why he tries to use as little wood as possible in creating his beautiful pieces. He carefully selects specific timber from timber yards around North London but will go further afield for something special. Sourcing these timbers is Tom’s favourite part of the making process, sifting through boards to find the perfect combination of colour, structure and interesting grain pattern.
All of his offcuts are used and burnt at his home to keep his family warm on their converted free-fall lifeboat, the Nautilus, which Tom gutted and fitted out by himself. The wood shavings he produces goes into the compost at The Castle Climbing Centre garden project in Hackney, so nothing is ever wasted, which is such an important part of Tom’s making process that we adore.
Tom notes that he is particularly interested in Shaker craft techniques, midcentury cabinetmaking, Japanese joinery, green woodworking and bushcraft. He enjoys spoon-carving, scything and working on big two person saws. Tom also enjoys finding and refurbishing old and neglected tools such as chisels and planes, bringing them back to life and putting them to use again which is a testament to his skilled craftsmanship and focus on sustainability.
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