The Chippendale School has welcomed hundreds of students from around the world through its workshop doors. We are proud to have supported the careers of so many woodworkers from the start of their journeys, right up to setting up their own businesses.
Frazer A Reid set up FAR Cabinet Makers and Far Wooden Surfboards after studying at Chippendale School. He now combines his two big passions in life – woodworking and surfing – and gets to do what he loves every day.
Read on to find out more about this Fife-based maker’s journey into furniture making and life after Chippendale…
What attracted you to the Chippendale School’s Professional Course?
I found the Chippendale School whilst searching for woodworking courses online. I first fell in love with woodworking and creating at primary school during a woodturning class.
Prior to starting the course, I had been at university but dropped out after a month deciding it wasn’t for me. I ended up working at St Andrews university as a janitorial technician. I saw the course online and thought it looked amazing and would love to do it! At this point I had been working at the university for a year and decided I would continue working there until I had saved enough money to do the course. So, I worked there for another year and a half, saving up as much as I could before applying for the course.
How was your experience studying at the Chippendale School?
I absolutely loved studying at the school. It was a really nice environment to learn in and I worked really hard while I was there to soak in as much knowledge as I could.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about undertaking study at Chippendale School?
The best advice I could give is work as hard as you can while you are there. Learn as much as you can and ask questions on everything. There is a lot to learn over the 9 months so really focus on the basics and building a good foundation of skills. I think being patient as well is an important part. I was only 20 when I did the course and was probably a little impatient looking back because I all I wanted do was build and make. This all comes with time and it is best to slow down and take it one step at a time.
What was/were your highlight(s) from life at the School?
A few highlights from the course would be the Christmas dinner in the big hall. A table was set up the full length of the hall, with 40 people seated. It was just such a lovely community. Lunchtimes were spent in the courtyard with everyone playing boules or darts. The biggest highlight was probably seeing the progress everyone else and myself made. From the first day making a whetstone box, hammering away with chisels to seeing the finished pieces at the end of the year, was just incredible!
What did you make for your end of year pieces?
For my end of year piece, I made a federal card table. This was all veneered in flamed mahogany with a semi-circular flip top. I inlaid all the legs and top of the table with a holly pin line and oval fan. The gate legs on the back of the table I decided I would make knuckle joints for the hinges – to this day I’ve never done another pair of these!
Did you stay at the incubation hub (Myreside Studios) after graduating? If so, what was your experience there?
After finishing the course I stayed at Myreside Studios for six months. I had a few commissions to do after finishing the course which I got from the end of year exhibition so it was great to be able to stay and work on these in the hub where I could still ask the tutors for advice if needed. It was great to be able to put into practice all I had learnt and work with customers properly.
How has your business been going since setting up?
Setting up the business was a steep learning curve. I was only 21 and had a lot to learn about running a business. It was difficult building up a client base and getting things going. I have now been going for eight years and things are going well. I have built up the workshop adding to machinery and upgrading to bigger machinery as I was able to. It isn’t always easy, but I get to do what I love everyday creating beautiful furniture and surfboards.
You also design wooden surfboards – what inspired you to start making them?
I had surfed for a few years before starting the course and it was my main hobby and escape from work. While on the course one night I saw a wooden surfboard online and instantly went looking for how to make wooden boards. I don’t know how I’d never put the two together before!
It was coming up to the Easter break and there just so happened to be a wooden board workshop running in London over the break so I signed up for it. Maybe it was fate! I incorporated wooden boards into my business and make custom boards to order. I also run short courses where people can come and build their own under my guidance. I have also been making kits so people can build them at home in their own time which has been very popular. I build and ride my own boards and in 2019 represented Scotland at the British longboarding championships riding my own handmade board.
What have you been making recently? Any special pieces you’d like to mention?
There have been a lot of very different projects over the past few months. I make a lot of live edge mirrors which have been very popular. I recently made a spalted beech whisky cabinet which I built using only hand tools. Every joint was hand cut and it was really nice to slow down and build it this way. I have also sent out a few last-minute surf kits for Christmas and an oak dining table!
We’d like to thank Frazer for talking to us about his experiences of studying at the School and since graduating from the Professional course. Check out www.farcabinetmakers.co.uk/ for further insight into Frazer’s work.