Outwood carpenter Joe Wyer and his Wyerworks reclaimed wood creations
PUBLISHED: 16:25 12 July 2016 | UPDATED: 19:33 12 July 2016
Working with reclaimed materials from wind fallen trees to old railway sleepers, carpenter Joe Wyer is passionate about making beautiful bespoke furniture. Janet Donin visits him in Outwood
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2016
Tell us a bit about yourself…
In 2007, I helped convert a derelict barn into a shop, restaurant and event space for Jimmy’s Farm in Suffolk (owned by TV’s Jimmy Doherty). I was astounded by how much could be reused and became excited by the possibilities. Later, I had the opportunity to start my own business, Wyerworks, which gave me the freedom to make what I wanted.
What first attracted you to reclaimed materials?
I enjoy the transformation that takes place when you turn reclaimed materials, which would otherwise be burnt or sent to landfill, into products that people will treasure.
Do you have a favourite medium?
I love working with old oak! It’s not always the easiest timber but new oak doesn’t quite shape up. I recently finished a unit made with 16th-century oak beams from a French barn. The colours are like dark chocolate and honey compared to the pale blondes of new, managed oak.
Where do you source your materials from?
I know some good local timber yards and tree surgeons that specialise in reclaimed wood. I’ve also used everything from old National Trust signposts and the roof of an aircraft hangar to storm oak from the 1987 hurricane and some old snooker-table slates. Knowing a bit about the history of the materials makes the pieces that little bit more special.
Describe your style to us...
It’s simple, chunky and utilitarian. I don’t like too much ornamentation, as I want the materials to speak for themselves. My motto is ‘If you can’t dance on your kitchen table then it’s not worth it!’
Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by architecture, nature and existing furniture, as well as industrial buildings, rickety old barns or sturdy brick warehouses. Last year, I worked at a vineyard in Devon, turning timber from a calf-shed into a door for wine-tasting events with River Cottage. We used wind-felled ash to make the furniture and echoed the old building structure in their design.
Which item are you most proud of?
When I married my wife Katy, last year, I made the tables and seating for the reception, with my brother-in-law Tom, which was pretty special. I also love my ongoing project creating the café at Priory Farm Nurseries in South Nutfield. It started with just a few tables but over the years has developed into more tables and chairs, plus the bar and some signage too.
What is the most unusual piece that you have made?
I recently made a bespoke tallboy drawer unit from old National Trust signposts with galvanised metal tote trays for the drawers. There’s also a metre-square, timber armchair that will be a real statement piece.
Describe your workroom…
It’s on a little farm in Outwood. I’m a real hoarder, so I have shelves of interesting off-cuts, metal brackets and rusty bolts. All will serve a purpose on some job or other.
Tell us about your teammate…
Bella is a two-year-old Briard, who hangs out with me at the workshop and is a fantastic companion. She’s also a great excuse to stroll around the fields twice a day, when I’m thinking about solving any challenges.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Being self-employed. It means I can be flexible around my family and my dog and enjoy the things that money can’t buy. I can put in the hours when and how I want and no two days are ever the same.
What’s new on the horizon?
My projects are getting bigger but I would love to work with other creatives – blacksmiths, leather-workers or stone masons – to share ideas and skills. I’m also starting a sister company called Canvas & Cows, providing luxury bell tents for weddings and events. They will all be kitted out with Wyerworks products and provide a beautiful retreat.
Finally, what is the best thing about living in Surrey?
For me, it’s walks in the woods, country pubs and being close to London and Brighton. I think it has a great balance of everything locally without having to travel too far.
• All Joe’s work is bespoke. To get in touch, call Wyerworks on 07980 400673, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see more on the website at wyerworks.com