Since I last wrote, preparation for the MK Handmade and Vintage Extravaganza has been full steam ahead. A lot has happened in the past three weeks, after spending my first full day in the workshop, I managed a further six days on the bounce and a couple more after that. It was great to be able to see how productive I could be when making in bulk. As well as everything I planed on my first day, I also planed and machined to thickness another coffee table top and the legs for both tables as well as some bookends and doorstops. The rest of the time has been spent finishing all of these products.
The process involves:
Sanding, cutting to length, branding, a final sand, cutting and punching leather (for respective handles), marking and drilling the oak for these handles, oiling and finally putting the handles on.
After ten days, I have managed to produce serving boards, bookends, doorstops, shelves and a couple of outdoor coffee tables. What’s even better is that everything other than the coffee tables has been made using English Oak – I love being able to use locally sourced oak wherever possible.
Other than fitting a few handles on a couple of items tomorrow, I am ready to box everything up, load it into the van and head to The Centre:MK. I am sharing a stall with my very talented other half Claire of Claire Wilson Designs who has helped me massively with tonnes of fine tuning getting ready for this weekend including flyers, price lists, care info, the list goes on….
We are both really looking forward to what will hopefully be a very busy and productive weekend. If you’re reading this and fancy a trip out this weekend then come and say hi, there are 128 stalls in total with a rich variety of handmade and vintage giftable items.
So this past month has been busy! I can’t quite believe it’s been a whole month since I last wrote a blog post and that there’s only a few more weeks until Christmas arrives. This month has certainly gone quick, and it’s great to be busy but it can be frustrating at times as you don’t feel that you are able to move forward. The main reason for my lack of blogging is because the landscaping has been and is so busy at the moment. We’re currently part way through a very large project in Oxford that has included a terrace, a raised hardwood deck (involving some steelwork), block rendered walls, raised oak beds and a rather large hardwood bench. However at the minute we are installing vertical oak sleepers along switch backs that we have cut out of a very steep bank.
All of the above has meant that I haven’t been able to hone my woodwork skills in the past month. I have been selling products though and it’s been great being at work and getting an email from Etsy come through which then gets packaged up and sent out to it’s new home.
In fact, all of my original bookends sold out pretty quickly so I have managed to finish off some others that are now live and available to buy in my Etsy shop.
I am now about half way through my stock. The weekend before last being my best yet with half a dozen serving boards selling in just 24 hours. So if you are thinking about getting your hands on any of the Oak House products, I would suggest not to leave it too late, especially with Christmas just around the corner.
I can’t quite believe that it’s been over 2 weeks since my Oak House Etsy shop went live. Between the middle of July and the end of September, I spent on average a day a week working from home on Oak House. This included making all the products that you can see in my shop and sourcing the materials. Leather from Northampton, brass screws and brass caps – I never knew it would be so difficult to source some decent looking brass caps! And also choosing the right oil for the various items.
Claire and I also worked hard on the business stationery (when I say “I”, it generally means that I just agreed with what Claire said and did!).
I’m really pleased with the final branding and hope you agree she did a great job.
I also spent time sourcing packaging for the various products, so we now have a spare room that houses different sized flat packed cardboard boxes and foam packaging.
In the 2 weeks since my Oak House Etsy shop went live, it has had what I feel is a lot of views (a few hundred) and I’ve also had my very first Etsy sale which is great.
I’ve since been doing a spot of research on how you go about converting views into sales.
I have to keep reminding myself though that;
1) I run another business which is stupidly busy at the moment
2) The fact that my other business is busy is a good thing as it pays the bills and it will allow me to spend the odd day at home or in the new workshop every now and again to make new products
3) Success doesn’t come overnight (but hopefully within 18 months!)
So after what seems like a lifetime and probably is in fact more than 650 days, I can finally say that Oak House is officially up and running!
I now have a limited quantity of stock FOR SALE in my very own Etsy shop – exciting times.
These include serving boards, bookends and mantle clocks. I have also made some green oak door stops and am currently working on the designs of some oak and leather wine bottle holders.
The wine bottle holders will use up the last of the oak that I picked up from Oxford Oak a little while ago. My next batch of oak will hopefully be very local and planked for me over the next month or so. It would also allow me to make some larger items including coffee tables, outdoor dining tables and benches, as well as the current Oak House home ware products from any offcuts. An exciting six months lies ahead which will hopefully involve lots of making.
I’d like to thank all of you that have read this blog and those of you who have liked, commented or shared any of my pictures on Instagram and Twitter. It’s a great feeling to know that people actually like what you do.
The biggest thank you has to go to my other half, Claire, who has been nothing short of amazing in helping me get the business off the ground. Over the last 3 to 4 months she has put some serious hours in which I truly appreciate.
I hope you all enjoy having a browse around my Etsy shop and if you happen to buy anything than that’s a huge bonus and thank you!
I’m Henry and I’m the woodworking craftsman behind Oak House. I design and hand craft oak and leather homeware products, as well as oak and steel outdoor furniture.
Oak House has been in the making for over two years and in April 2016, I became a little impatient whilst waiting for my workshop to be built and started to make some products in my garden.
In the four months since then, I have been extremely busy, running my other business as a landscape gardener, taking a much needed holiday and spending any free time I have fine tuning my first batch of hand made products:
This brand new, unique collection of homeware products will be available to purchase from my Etsy shop very soon so please stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled for the Oak House brand!
In the meantime, you can find and follow me on Twitter & Instagram for the all the latest news and to see what I’m currently working on in my garden workshop.