Interview with Phil(Phil Makes Things)

Interview with Phil(Phil Makes Things)

In this post we like to introduce our community member Phil from Phil Makes Things from England. We have asked him a few questions about himself and his hobby. These where his answers!


Please introduce yourself to our readers: Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not in the workshop, and where can we find you on the web?

Hello, and thank you for inviting me to introduce myself to the EWC!

I’m Phil Jarrett, from Bristol, a city in the south west of England in the UK. I’m on the web in most places as Phil Makes Things.

Woodworking & making in general is very much a part-time hobby for me. For 40 hours a week I sit at a computer in an office as a systems administrator for a college, I also do Audio / Visual installations and am the resident photography expert (digital and wet process).

I mainly put things I’m working on up on Instagram – as well as anything else I find interesting, or maybe the people that follow me will.
instagram.com/philmakesthings

And my build videos go on YouTube
youtube.com/philmakesthings

I’m not a heavy Facebook user, but you might see me floating about in the I Like To Make Stuff, Makers on Youtube and WoodWorkingUK groups.

How old are you and for how long have you been practicing woodworking as a hobby?

I’m 39 years old, and have been around woodworking my whole life, but have only really been practicing for the last two years or so. Before I got into woodworking, I’ve been a huge proponent of the make-do-and-mend ideal. If something is broken I’ll certainly try my best to mend it before buying something new! My father was an engineer and very good woodworker – I have inherited most of this old tools – and added many of my own. I still have many things to learn…

How did you come to do woodworking and what’s your motivation to practice this hobby?

I do it because it’s a complete antithesis to what I do all day at work, and I love working with my hands. It’s complete escapism from the tech world. For most of a week I’m in an almost entirely digital landscape, but in the workshop the only thing digital is the camera. I very rarely make any plans beyond a sketch on paper and an idea of how I want something to look when finished, and everything else is hands on.

Some might call it therapy. I don’t know about that, but I find it very relaxing, despite it something being frustrating, and at this time of year very cold in the workshop (I’d like to install a wood burning stove, but the local laws prevent it).

Another motivation is to make things for our home that will last a long time. Most of the things I make are a reaction to a need; be it a fruit basket, a blanket box or a coat stand… if we need something, I’d rather make it than buying something new.  I’m a big believer in reusing materials; there is a wealth of used wood that only needs a little cleaning up or paint removing to be used again for something else. That’s got to be better than cutting down trees? I can’t walk past a skip without peering in to see if there’s anything I can use – but always ask before you take something!

Why do you share your projects on the web?

Mainly for the fun of it. The first thing I put on my YouTube channel was a concrete USB hub as part of a challenge, and the response I got from that was very positive (it’s my most watched video!) and it only spurs me on to make more. I find the maker community on pretty much all social platforms a very welcoming place for people of all skill levels, and it’s nice to get feedback from like-minded people, both praise and constructive criticism on how something could have been done differently.

What photo/video equipment do you use and why? If you make videos, what’s your typical workflow for a video?

I use a Nikon d5100 that’s technically broken – it will shoot video but the shutter is broken so it won’t take pictures and more. There’s a distinct knack to making it work – I have to hold my hand over the lens in bright conditions before starting to record, otherwise it won’t work… but otherwise, I’m very happy with the results, but I will upgrade to a non-broken camera sometime in the future.. I use Final Cut Pro X to edit.

Generally, I add footage to a project timeline as I make it, I don’t wait until the project is finished before I start editing. I make a rough cut of all the footage I want to use, then spend a few hours editing it down, revising, and adding a voiceover if the video needs it. Like the woodworking I do, it’s something I need to spend more time doing and making it a bit neater! Practice makes perfect – I’m the kind of person that leans through doing rather than studying books or videos – but I read and watch a lot for inspiration on what to do next.

Do you have a favourite tool? If so, what do you like about it?

That’s a really hard question. I love using my father’s hand-planes which I have restored and use all the time, but at the moment I’d have to say my favorite tool is the track saw. I don’t have space for a table saw, but the track saw allows me to make repeatable cuts with a good straight edge, and they’re coming down in price to the point where it’s available to almost every budget.


Thanks for these insights and for your time! Happy woodworking!

Patrick – PaddysWoodshop (Community Admin)

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