SIMON JAMES, lives and works in the foothills of Snowdonia National Park, in North Wales.
After several years abroad, he returned to his home county of Gwynedd, with his wife Joy and three teenage children, where the whole family re-built a 300 year old farm house which is now their family home.
Simon has a ‘no nonsense’, practical approach to woodworking which he admits, is largely due to his father Jesse’s influence. Jesse James, also-re built a farmhouse, “The Bunkhouse”, 50 years previous. Having made a living as a mountain guide, even now at 83, he is still ridiculously fit. Simon also inherited an interest in industrial chemistry, and all manner of other scientific interests, which led to a degree in Mining Engineering, and then to employment at a gold mine in Ecuador.
In spite of his engineering background, he started married life as an apprentice carpenter, with a certain Steve Fisher, who had a reputation for attention to detail that suited Simon’s engineering approach to carpentry and joinery. In his spare time, he made tables, gates and built kitchens and cabinets entirely from scratch. This soon became a full time business, undertaking commissions from a string of wealthy clients.
Working out of a small workshop, his reputation for quality workmanship grew to the point that he took on apprentices, instilling the need for genuine care and attention to detail in every project. Teaching and training became a passion, leading to an educational degree in Design and Technology, where he naturally specialized in woodwork. He then went on to teach woodworking, amongst other things, in Romania for five years, before returning to Wales around 10 years ago.
Simon brings a fresh perspective to teaching woodwork, one that is very firmly based on the skills and techniques from the past, but with a passion to communicate them clearly to a modern audience, and often with some fresh new insights. Always with a pragmatic approach, to find the best way to work with, and integrate, a few modern machines with traditional hand tool methods.