Colwin Way – Profile

My woodturning journey started in 1983 where a work experience choice at school created an interest in the craft that was so infectious it became an obsession. The choice was a lazy one really because the main reason for choosing to attend the local production woodturning workshop was because it was at the end of my road. However little did I know how much this would change and ultimately shape my life!

The woodturning workshop was owned by Geoffrey Manley and the work experience placement was a three week in at the deep end type of training. It was a busy workshop and Geoff had no time to teach, instead showed me once and told me to get on with it. I loved my three weeks with Geoff so much that I asked my parents if I could buy a lathe and only being thirteen was hoping for some financial help to do so. Geoff also gave me a lot of help, coming to choose the lathe with me  to make sure everything was just so and with a beaming smile came back with a Myford ML8. This is where the true obsession became an addiction and I spent every free hour I had turning, much to the annoyance of my neighbours.

I must have done something right though as shortly after leaving school some two years later Geoff asked me if I would like to take on an apprenticeship with him!

I served 5 years with Geoffrey learning a huge variety of turning techniques from spindle to bowl, hollow forms to miniature but also in many materials including wood, bone, ivory, jade, jet, antler, stone, horn, amber, plastic, clay and resin.

After leaving Geoffrey I found myself working as a full-time self employed woodturner, until I was given an opportunity to rent a workshop on a local farm. This was a great opportunity for me as I had a massive workshop and had the chance to learn another range of skills. The deal was I worked for my rent, giving half my day to the farm I was able to learn a range of forestry management techniques from tree planting, thinning,  minimal impact extraction using heavy horses to many types of chainsaw uses in felling, crosscut and pruning. The other great thing was I was able to take the best bits of timber for myself.

This was a wonderful life being out in the country side, managing the land and the creatures who inhabit it, with a very old Massy Ferguson tractor as my ride and my little Jack Russell (Rupert) as my company.

Then in 1998 my turning journey led me to start working for a local tool company (Axminster tools) as an advisor on everything woodturning, this included teaching, demonstrating and writing for them. I’m pleased to say that I’m still working there and have been a big part of the development of woodturning within their product range where woodturning is a huge part of their business.

I’ve been very lucky to of been invited to many parts of the world to represent woodturning and to demonstrate the craft and my acquired skills to thousands of eager eyes and to pass on my obsession.

To date my adventures have taken me to many countries including the USA, France, Spain, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Norway and have taken part in many symposiums and wonderful woodturning events. This is where my heart is, travelling and meeting people who share my passion, I love to see that enthusiasm either for one of my demonstrations or when they’ve made a piece they are really proud of in one of my lessons.

Writing has played a big part in my recent career, writing for woodturning magazine for the past 8 years, never imagining myself as a writer in anyway but being nurtured and mentored by the editor Mark Baker who I can honestly say helped me professionally and personally more than I could have ever imagined. As well as woodturning my other passions beside my family are Running, Open water swimming, Kayaking and Cycling. I’m part of the local Triathlon team where I’ve found a similar ethic to that of turning, practice will lead to improvement and feel constantly encouraged by the team while never feeling belittled by those better than me.

My wants for the future are to continue doing what I do and to meet as many people, travel to as many places and enjoy these experiences with my family who have become as invested in my lifestyle as I am. Both my sons help me with social media, website design, photography and videography while my wife controls the administration packaging of pieces and setting up products for sale as well of course, keeping me grounded, sometimes there are to many ideas in my head and I have to be told to stop talking about them quite so much.


  1. Taming of the Skew – A look into the history and use of this misunderstood tool. Colwin will take you through the use of the skew while looking at different types and dynamics that make them work. You will also be taken through the reasons for the their notoriety and be shown exactly why they cause so many of us to struggle getting to grips with them.
  2. German smoking figure – A lovely little project taken from Colwin list of German inspired seasonal heirlooms. These incense burners have become a very popular demonstration as they take you through so many alternative forms of work holding while delving into the delightful history of these humorous figures.
  3. Christmas Pyramid and Nativity – This is a chance to watch the making and construction of two fascinating Christmas projects. Firstly a single tier Christmas Pyramid but then dressed with a nativity scene for good measure. These projects will concentrate mainly of the skew chisel but will again involve a lot of alternative work holding, indexing and finishing.

Masterclass (mastering the skew) – This is a chance to get up close and personal with the Skew chisel and get a better understanding of how it works and in some cases why it doesn’t! You are encouraged to bring your own Skew so your training can continue when you return to your own workshop. You will take it in turns with your fellow students to plain, roll beads and sharpen your Skew to hopefully answer all your Skew questions.