About me

Welcome to cobwebcrafts, the home of Andy Coates, woodturner

I first picked up a woodturning gouge in the summer of 2003. On a visit to my Father-In-law I was impressed by a burr Oak bowl he had on the table, and asked where he’d got it from, “I turned it in the shed”, he told me, and took me down to the shed to see the lathe and tools. After mounting a piece of pine onto the lathe, and passing me a gouge (pointy thing, as I knew it then) he told me to, “have a go.”. And I did. And was immediately bitten by the bug.

Several weeks later, back home in London, he called me to tell me that there was a lathe on offer at a department store in Lowestoft. I asked him to reserve it, and drove up at the weekend to collect it. I spent a few months at home back in London, trying to turn, with the lathe mounted on a workmate, and sited on the patio. I made lots of very ugly round firewood, but the damage was done…I wanted to learn how to do this.

Not long after this we moved to rural Suffolk, to be closer to the in-laws, and provide a better place for our daughter to grow up. I bought a shed, and a new, better, lathe was given to me as a present, and I spent 12 months of virtually 12 hours days, badgering away in the shed. I made so many mistakes, and lots of fancy firewood. But it was fun.

I joined a local woodturning club, and the advice and support I received there were invaluable. By default, I had also joined the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain, and benefitted by this as well. I would later join the committee of the AWGB as Public Relations officer, and end my time with them some eleven years later as Chairman. During this period I was also accepted onto the Register of Professional Turners, but resigned some years later.

Woodturning had taken over my life. I had opened a business, cobwebcrafts, opened my first workshop/gallery, in a re-purposed pig farm craft centre, and regularly attended craft events across the country. When I opened cobwebcrafts I thought I could just make the things I liked to make, sell them, and make a living. I had no idea how difficult this would be. I worked seven days a week for nearly ten years, and eventually this took its toll, and it had to stop. I had branched out into the kind of work a turner has to take on to survive; antique restoration for clients, architectural turning for builders and restorers, one off commissions of a vast range of objects, and demonstrating to woodturning clubs and at events. It was pretty full on, and not in the least “doing my own thing”.

After about six years I re-located to another workshop/gallery in the local town, in a lovely old building by the river, but in 2016 there was a catastrophic fire, and everything seemed to be lost. Some of the large machinery, lathes, bandsaws Etc., was possibly recoverable, but I needed somewhere to take them to do this, and I found another “workshop” near home. Anything that could be boxed up was taken there to assess the damage. A friend, John Woods, was the powerhouse who kept me going through the first few weeks, and turners from woodturning clubs across the UK, and USA, sent donations of money, tools, and support, and made it all a little less world ending. CROWN Tools, based in the UK, sent a full selection of their tools, to replace all those I’d lost. Two lovely women who I knew through Twitter started a campaign to raise money to get me back on my feet, and with the proceeds of this I was able to get back to the point where I could at least work again, and at the same time look for a more appropriate workshop. Seven years later and I’m still there…and I wouldn’t be if it were not for the help of the people who stepped up back in 2016/17. Whenever the world seems horrid, which it does far too often, I remember all those people, and know that it isn’t all bad.

When the pandemic hit, I stopped demonstrating, had to, and haven’t returned to the circuit. It was never financially sensible, and re-starting had no appeal. I also stopped teaching in the workshop, but do take the odd (avoiding using “occasional” was deliberate) student on every so often. Things change.

Since around 2015 I have written a monthly article for Woodturning magazine, and am now technical editor for them, and have also completely revised the most popular woodturning book they’ve ever published. I am working on two books of my own…which I hope to have published in the near future.

Woodturning is a consuming hobby, a fantastic craft, and a difficult living…but I wouldn’t do anything else now.

My preference is still to make things *I* like, and hope that they sell, but I also undertake commissions from antique restorers, builders, anybody in fact, that needs something turning. The pandemic saw over a dozen of my regular clients take the money and run, and many closed down for good, but slowly I’m finding new clients. Over the last seven years I have taken on more “flat work” – I have the machines, and some level of ability, so it was a natural step, and the work is often enjoyable and satisfying. I also do some carving and other woody things, mainly out of interest, and for relaxation, but some of it adds to the pot.

I can’t see me ever stopping what I do…providing that I can still make a living at it. Even a small one. So, if you’ve stopped by and got this far, please do take a look at the gallery of past work, and the shop over at

. Every sale helps keep me doing what I do. Thanks for reading.