Theo Cook created this amazing Japanese sunrise dovetail joint which got over 11 million views on Facebook. Click here to find out more about his fantastic dovetails.
What’s your role here at robinson house studio?
I am vice principal and a senior tutor here, so I teach the students all their different course subjects. I oversee their projects and help them out with their designs and any issues there might be. I teach most of the subjects here and do the day to day teaching and tutoring.
How did you get into woodworking?
I started off at school I guess. Being dyslexic it was a subject I excelled at and really enjoyed, it was the only thing I got an A in at GCSE! So I decided to go to college to learn more about furniture making, I did a City and Guilds course which was two years, and while I was there I saw an advert for an apprenticeship at the Edward Barnsley workshop. It was quite tricky to get in there, but I was there for a five year apprenticeship, and in my fourth year I went to the James Krenov school in America, which is now the College of Redwoods. After that I stayed on as a craftsman for a couple of years.
How did you start teaching furniture making?
While I was at the Edward Barnsley workshop they stopped doing the five year apprenticeships and just did three year apprenticeships, so in my fifth year I started supervising the third year apprentices while they were working on their projects and I did this more as a craftsman there. So I started teaching there, then I left and went to Senior & Carmichael and wasn’t doing any teaching, I was just making for nine years.
When did you start teaching here at robinson house studio?
Originally I started here renting a bench to work on my own projects, and I did some teaching in exchange for rent of the bench, just one day a week. I wasn’t actively getting my own commissions because I’d never done it before, and I didn’t really want to get a job making fitted furniture and things like that, so I decided to do more and more teaching here and now I’m doing it full time.
Do you still have time to work on your own projects at your bench?
A little bit, not as much as one would like, but that’s the way it is!
Is there a particular aspect of furniture making that you enjoy most?
I like more mechanical things, that’s what I enjoy. Because I’ve done so many pieces of furniture I really like to test myself and do something different and challenging. I definitely like pushing myself. I do want to do my own projects but it’s having the time and space to make bigger things.
Is there a project you’re currently working on?
A very complicated, mechanical, resin jewellery box. It’ll be finished by New Designers next year hopefully! It’s all in pieces at the moment. I have got a few things on Instagram but not much has been put out yet. Maybe I’ll do a video showing all the components because it’s probably got 300 or 400 components.
So, do you have any advice for students that are starting with you?
You’ve got to put the hours in and practice and practice and practice. You can’t become an expert at something without it, you might be naturally good at something but if you’re not you’ve just got to keep trying and keep battling. Some students really struggle at the start, I had a student who really struggled with hand skills and the quality that was needed. They struggled for the first few months and doubted their own skills and doubted whether they’d be able to finish the thing, but they’re now renting a bench from us and building their own projects. He’s really excelled from where he started.