Ben Willis Woodcraft is an independent wood workshop based in Crystal Palace offering a chance to get back to nature by using green wood to make a bowl, stool or chair from scratch.
Ben makes bespoke furniture and it all starts this way - as a log, as far as is possible freshly cut from the woodland. Aside from the practical advantages of using material in this form, as previously described, an added benefit is that it sustains the ancient practice of coppicing, a sustainable method for managing woodlands in which trees are cut, allowed to regrow again for a period of time, before being harvested once more - and so on.
Ben was for a long time fascinated watching demonstrations at craft shows by skilled craftsmen and women of some of the old woodworking techniques. Eventually, Ben got around to signing up to a week-long chair-making course in Herefordshire with Mike Abbott, one of the leading recent exponents of the craft and a key figure in the revival of traditional woodworking techniques. Predictably, he was hooked, and jumped on the chance of returning to Mike's workshop in the woods the following year to work as his assistant for a season.
This gave Ben chance to learn the craft in depth from someone with a huge amount of knowledge. Since then, Ben has been honing the skills he learnt from Mike learning more from others and developing his own ideas and approaches to the craft.