1968 - 2014
Maker of very fine things and stuff.
Richard died suddenly and unexpectedly in May 2014, at the ‘just getting good at it’ age of 46. He has been a great loss to all of us with an interest in hand tools and that elusive English way of creating, making and engineering. And a great loss period.
I first came across Richard as a maker of traditional bench holdfasts - made in a forge the proper way. Richard had spent many hours indeed perfecting this deceptively simple device, and it had been field-tested by many to ensure it really was a worker... and it was. Some time later, Richard and Helen Maguire spotted them and they were sold through the RM store at a princely £48 a pair. I have 5 of them including one of the very last pairs - they’ll see me out for certain.
Whilst Richard was best known in woodworking circles, his greatest skills probably lay in metalworking - useful in a toolmaker.
Knowing that Richard was a bit handy in a forge, I asked him to make me some hooks for my Cook’s Trolley. With his usual care he produced me a set... for about a tenner as I recall. He’d said later he would knock a few more out next time the forge was fired up. The hooks on that trolley really are unique, and certainly ‘very handmade’.
In recent years Richard had become a plane-maker. I know people who make planes every so often, but there are those few who go further, and become plane-makers. I’d say that is to dedicate all your skills and time to the making of the very best planes possible (Bill Carter, Phil Edwards, Konrad Sauer and others do this). This is certainly where Richard was going.
Only weeks before he passed, Richard had just completed a wedged mitre plane with yew infill, and remarked to Emma that he felt this was a ‘grown-up plane’.
Another chum, Jim has just finished a panel plane that Richard started and gave to Jim to finish (pics).
I have a bag of Richard’s wrought nails and I have to make a traditional tool chest using them - it’ll be interesting because to some extent I have to design the chest around the random nail lengths I have.
Mr T was a big character with a certain style. His sharp wit and sense of humour led him to become an acclaimed and recognised cartoonist (for many well-known publications) and before that he was an arborist who was also well-known locally for his hedge-cutting and topiary skills.
An all-round great bloke, hugely knowledgeable and passionate about what he did. Very generous in sharing his experience and knowledge. His work lives on of course, he just didn’t get to do enough of it.
One of Richard's planes was recently completed by Jim Hendricks - the mighty fine Tomes Hendricks panel plane. I got to use it - outstanding it is.
The whole story of its build is on WK fine tools here