00:00:02 My name is Peter T and I make, repair and teach people how to make guitars. And I would primarily call myself a designer and a craftsman. The two are separate, I think. And I happen to be involved in guitar making. For me the greatest satisfaction in the work, is almost the work itself. And I can’t separate it out. It’s not like – Oh, here is the finished guitar. I’ve actually enjoyed the making of it, I’ve enjoyed selecting the timbers, I’ve maybe had to make a special tool or a jig, I’ve enjoyed that. If I’d made it for a customer then, you know, the satisfaction that the customer hopefully has at the end of it. I mean that all feeds to it.
00:01:30 My vision as a young person, I’d forget it. I mean I really hadn’t got a clue. I really knew nothing. But the pressure was on at school. What are you going to do? What are you going to be? And I have to say that I didn’t really know. But I think I was forced into a choice – which was actually Botany and Zoology as a degree, which I started and failed. My father died and I sort of came slightly adrift for a while, in fact probably quite a long time. But I think I felt a failure, a miserable bloody failure, you know. But I don’t think I’m unintelligent, you know, I’m not incapable of expressing myself. But somehow or other the world seemed to be premised on the badge, if you like, and over the years I’ve realised that the badge is meaningless.
00:01:43 Well after I sort of fell off the swing, if you like, I worked for some Lewisham architects as a clerk, and I went to the Polytechnic of Central London. Doesn’t exist anymore, but I mean it was fabulous. We went to Rome, we did drawings, we made models, we did Shiatsu massage, we did photography, printing. I mean, you know, you couldn’t want for more really.
00:02:09 I was an Architect, I had a fabulous time. I did everything from small scale conversion work of Victorian houses into two flats for Housing Co-ops, to a hundred thousand square feet of shopping centre stuff so, you know, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
00:02:28 The shift, if you like, from Architecture was suddenly I realised I could actually exist on a much reduced salary, a much reduced income. Significantly so. And this was quite liberating. What I do now is absolutely very different from then. But in a way drawing, designing, making – you know, I’ve described guitar making as architecture on a bench.
00:02:58 If I look back on my life, and I hope there’s a bit more to go, I don’t think really I would have done much differently. And even when my father died which was right, just before my mock A levels, nobody said – do you fancy taking a year out, you know, this is possibly a difficult time for you. No. I mean it’s quite bizarre really, when I think about it. But, you know, life has some interesting turns and some interesting pathways, and I think really I’ve been very lucky, followed them.
00:03:31 If I could do anything in the world, I think I would just like to make a positive contribution, whatever that might be. I mean I might, for example, encourage others to do something similar. I’m not saying become a guitar maker, what I’m saying is, whatever you do become, make sure you’re actually enjoying it.
Peter T designs, makes and repairs guitars and teaches others how to make them. He is based at Cockpit Arts. “I was an Architect, I had a fabulous time. I did everything from small scale conversion work of Victorian houses into two flats for Housing Co-ops, to a hundred thousand square feet of shopping centre stuff.” But he realised he could live comfortably on a much reduced salary so he gave it all up.
More information about Furniture makers and other craft woodworkers
The UK average salary is £28,758
There are 37.5 hours in the average working week
The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male
- Examines drawings and specifications to determine job requirements and appropriate materials;
- Selects, measures, cuts and shapes wood using saws, chisels, planes, powered hand tools and woodworking machines;
- Assembles parts with crafted joints, nails, screws, dowels or adhesives and fits locks, catches, hinges, castors, drawers, shelves and other fittings;
- Removes, replaces or repairs damaged parts of wooden furniture;
- Measures floor area to be covered and lays wood blocks, parquet panels or hardwood strips;
- Matches and marks out veneers ready for cutting and examines and repairs defects in veneer or plywood sheets.
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