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John Dilley - Chesil Woodcraft

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

John has an affinity with wood. It all started after a shocking, life-changing accident.

One Good Turn

John's woodturning skills seemingly know no bounds. Stepping into his workshop at Clevedon Craft Centre, the shelves are filled with beautiful, useful and sometimes highly unusual wooden objects. By John's side, his faithful friend, Burt, keeps him company.

The pieces range from artistic forms to more practical designs, but each one makes the most of this beautiful natural material. He's been woodturning since he was a teenager - and his pieces are testament to his experience.

He works with oak, ash, beech, walnut and maple, sourced from local woodlands, gardens and tree surgery - as well as reclaimed wood from architecture or joinery remnants.

The Turning Point

John started his working life as a trainee plumber, but one day, disaster struck. While he was working on a building site, a brick wall collapsed, leaving him paralysed from the waist down. He was just 17 years old.

After 14 weeks in hospital and major spinal surgery, doctors thought he would never walk again. But when he started to regain some sensation, he realised he had a long road ahead to learn how to walk and re-build the muscles in his lower body.

But it was woodturning that really changed his life. While recovering from the accident and dealing with the mental health impact of such a huge event, John was advised to find a hobby to help him through the darker days. He immediately thought of woodturning, which he'd first tried out at school - and never looked back.

It took seven years of rehabilitation to return to work and his found a job at a canoe manufacturer where he still works today. But woodwork is in his soul, so most weekends and evenings, he can be found at his workshop creating fabulous objects on his lathe.

John plans to offer woodturning courses and training in the coming months. He's keen to share the joy with anyone who's willing to learn, but especially anyone who needs some support through difficult times. It's amazing what wood can do!

PURE SOMERSET HAMPER Co. has commissioned John to craft our bespoke cheese knives and boards. Visit our shop to find out how you can add one to your hamper.

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