The Love of Wood

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Chris Dowding is a time-served craftsman, who delights in creating bespoke furniture, doors, windows and cabinets in natural wood.

He joined the local firm of Ivor Newton's straight from school, where he served his five-year apprenticeship as a cabinet maker and specialist joiner. For the next 34 years, Chris worked alongside Ivor's son, Roger Newton, who sadly passed away in May last year. A fellow apprentice from the early years, John Ewers, retired a few years ago.

Keen to maintain his traditional quality workmanship and his Haddenham base, Chris is now running his own business, operating from the same workshop on Aston Road that has been his professional home for nearly 40 years.

Says Chris: " I specialise in bespoke furniture, both fitted and free-standing, as well as made-to-measure items such as traditionally made doors, window frames and one-off staircases. The most popular wood at the moment is Oak, although this does vary with fashion over time. There is a discernable move towards darker woods like Walnut at the moment, for example."

"Although I do a lot of work for owners of older properties and listed buildings, I am also pleased to be able to hand-craft fitted furniture for those looking for fitted cabinets and specifically designed items in modern houses. There is still a demand for bespoke furniture of high quality, and I'm often approached by local architects needing new doors and windows for extensions that suit existing designs."

So how has the business changed over the years? "We used to do a lot of work for churches in former times, but much less so these days — I guess that new pews and hardwood furniture are a lower priority now."

"We're also more mindful of sustainability now. We source our oak and other timbers from sustainable sources, and there's much greater European legislation concerning traceability of sources, to ensure this sustainability. Such concerns are a good thing, of course."

Then there are the new materials used for furniture, such as melamine laminated mdf, with printed faux-wooden finishes, as well as computerised manufacturing techniques and the arrival of large scale retailers like Ikea — all this creates a very different market."

"Thankfully, there are still homeowners and designers who love real wood and are keen to have tailored, bespoke, one-off items constructed in that most natural of materials."

So, for those local residents who perhaps imagined that the cabinet maker's workshop in Haddenham had closed — you couldn't be more wrong. Chris Dowding continues to offer a skilled service to those looking for something special for their homes.

For more information, contact Chris by telephone (07799 753087) or by email: chris@chrisdowding.com

Or visit his website