Cockington furniture maker Paul Tout says locally sourced wood is best

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From engraved chopping boards to commissioned one off pieces – it’s all in a day’s work for furniture maker Paul Tout.

Based at Cockington Court Craft Centre, Paul loves to work with wood of any kind, but says locally sourced is always the preferred option where possible. His latest commissions include two tables ordered by a couple who visited Cockington while on holiday. One, constructed from Elm, uses wood from a tree surgeon from Okehampton.

“Elm is liked by a lot of people, perhaps because it is not so easily available,” said Paul. “People like it because it’s different. Similar to the campaign to use locally sourced food, there is also a campaign to use locally sourced wood.”

For Paul, designing and creating the commissions is one of the most enjoyable sides of his work, experimenting with ideas and being creative. With hand drawings used for the one off pieces, Paul adds: “It’s great when I have a eureka moment with a design. However, when I lay out the tools and start to make a piece methodically, I become very focused and time flies by.”

With so many facets to take into consideration, from sourcing the wood to making sure it is thoroughly air dried – a year per inch of timber plank – to the movement of the timber, making sure the grain matches up and when steam bending making sure the wood is not left in the steamer for too long otherwise the fibres will crumble, Paul has little room for error.

“All my works are built to last,” he explained. “I like to make furniture properly.”

His practices are paying off with an overflowing order book for one off commissions and fitted kitchen and bedroom furniture with plans to even take on an additional unit and possibly an apprentice to help him deal with the workload. There are also plans to expand his range with batch products using simplified designs but keeping the same quality Paul is passionate about.

“This unit has more than paid for itself and I love being based at Cockington,” he said. “Events such as the Ceramics Festival are very good for business. I would like to have a small range of products, to reduce the details to sell at a realistic price. I did make a couple of batch tables which quickly sold once people saw them in the window.” He added: “The chopping boards are very popular for wedding gifts and are a great use for the offcuts.”

Marissa Wakefield, Cockington Court Craft Centre Director, added: “Paul’s latest commissions are stunning. His works appeal to a large range of people, especially those looking for an unique wedding gift.”

Cockington Court Craft Centre is run by Torbay Development Agency as a visitor attraction and innovation centre to support small creative businesses in the Bay.

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