I’m Neil Holderness. This is about me. I make things and I fix things. Although the kind of job where many of my skills come together is fitting kitchens, of which I have done many, my true love is wood. To fashion something useful and lasting that is also beautiful is a true gift and I believed I am very lucky to be able to call myself a craftsman in the world of woodwork. I aspire to design and make high quality bespoke furniture but in the meantime I satisfy myself with making beautiful useful things, often to fit awkward or difficult spaces.
My biggest job I did for my family (including myself) and it took me well over two years and cost £15,000 in materials. Was it worth it? Yes, of course it was. We love the result, I lap up the plaudits from admiring visitors and I learned so much. So what was it that took such a chunk of my life? In a nutshell, the garden. We’d been promising ourselves for years that we’d sort out the garden and I finally made the time (and money).
Our garden is a long narrow plot which was over-grown with old shrubs and patchy grass, overshadowed by the neighbours’ huge Leylandii. They were marvellous and let me fell them without question. What did I do in all that time? I built a summer house with storage and a workshop, two decks, a shed, two patios, paths, lawns and a pergola. As a picture paints a thousand words, let me show you.
At last a place to relax and scoot off into the sunset. Would I do it for someone else? Unlikely. As much as I like the result, I prefer quicker wins!
So what would I do for others? If it involves wood I’d probably do it. The more potentially beautiful then the more likely I am to do it. I really enjoy solving problems, hence the “awkward and difficult spaces” stuff. Dave, a friend, asked if I’d fit their wooden kitchen worktop. It was a slightly awkward shape but a straight forward job and I was happy to oblige. Oh… and he also wanted a breakfast bar.
When I arrived, he’d sourced a large slice from a London Plane tree; he even knew its provenance. I almost leapt for joy! We had it split down the middle at the saw mill and opened it out, like a butterfly. Cutting, joining and fitting was only a day’s work. I then sanded for two days solid and Dave oiled for many more. It looks absolutely magnificent, crisp straight lines on the kitchen side and the waney edge left on the dining room side. This picture was taken after the first oiling.
Finally I know that my reputation (and my unique selling point) stands on the quality of my last piece of work. I never used to be quite so particular but my wife can spot a misalignment of a fraction of a millimetre, by eye, from many metres away. In the early days I re-did many an imperfect piece!
Now it goes without saying. Almost anyone can sling together a less than perfect job. It takes a craftsman on a mission to deliver the highest quality every time and that’s what I always take time to do.
About The Company, The Man Who Does Ltd.
After many years of (happily) doing favours for friends and family, I thought that maybe I could make a living at it. In those days I took on any job and set the company up as a “handyman” service; a bit of a “jack-of-all-trades”. It wasn’t too long before I realised that I should specialise in what I’m best at; working with wood. The company now trades as “MWD Property Maintenance” and tends to do more craftsmanship wood working than other jobs. I will still fit the odd kitchen but definitely prefer the difficult space, problem-solving wood work and providing unique solutions for homes.