On-site I was called a Chippy but now I am in the workshop full-time I am a Joiner.
Whereas on-site, I’d be fitting skirting boards and architraves and hanging doors, in the workshop I’m making bespoke kitchens, doors and window frames, and whatever is needed. I mainly work in pine and oak and sometimes oak veneered MDF and tulip-wood.
I like making anything really. It’s nice to see the job go from raw wood to finished item! For window frames, we get the raw oak in. It’ll be wavy and sometimes bent so it has to go through the planer. Then I’ll cut it to size and mark up where the mortice and tenons are going to go. Our new workshop is much better. It allows us to get a lot more done in the time and to do some jobs that we couldn’t do before.
I like working on the older restoration jobs best. Making bespoke barge boards for the barn conversions – you feel you are going back in time.
I picked up most of my knowledge from my Father. He served as an apprentice Chippy with Ipswich Borough Council and worked there for most of his life. I was doing my own private work and struggling to get enough when a mate of a mate said ‘Give Stowe Builders a ring’. I have been here four years now!
I’m born and bred in Ipswich. I have a wife and twin boys. One’s a lorry driver and the other drives a crane on the docks at Felixstowe. I have a 21ft fishing boat and catch Bass, Cod and Whiting on the River Orwell.
Words and pictures by Eric Orme with thanks to Mick Bryanton