The extraordinary man who wants to create British furniture

Lyle Todd is a 55-year-old self-taught master woodworker, who lives in Hove. He works on artisan furniture, which helps you remember exactly how much you spent on it “In 2016 I came across the…

The extraordinary man who wants to create British furniture

Lyle Todd is a 55-year-old self-taught master woodworker, who lives in Hove. He works on artisan furniture, which helps you remember exactly how much you spent on it

“In 2016 I came across the close-circuit cameras on Facebook,” he says. “I was amused by how lazy the “squish”, “thud”, “crunch” sound they make is – and I didn’t think it looked like it came from a living thing. I do a lot of bench work, which people tend to think is like the Army and not something I’d be that keen on.”

He bought two, set them up in the workshop in his kitchen, and had a look at them. “The first reaction was: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to make a bench?’ I got a little geeky, and I thought, maybe I should be making it out of wood.”

Lyle Todd at home in Chichester. His latest work is a system of wood joinery that made its debut in 2013. Photograph: Peter Chadwick

His sort of wood is millilled hardwoods, like pine or walnut, which are either untreated or untreated to a specific tolerances for something like the Quattro desk he has made. “There is a bit of tradition in making furniture out of native woods,” he says. “But what can be done with it now is amazing. Maybe five years ago there was a strong tradition, but most people will have never seen a woodlot.”

However, he admits to hating woodworking, which remains a hobby rather than a job. “I’m not particularly handsome and I don’t tend to be particularly attractive,” he says. “So when I see my hard-working wife heading off to visit someone new, I make her take my hand. And when she comes back, she’d rather look at me than anybody else, so it doesn’t take a lot of persuading.

“My hands are in the garage making the wood for the furniture because I spend too much time walking. This time of year I spend a lot of time in it as I do absolutely nothing. The other day a friend told me I shouldn’t use saws when I’m making wood. I used to build buildings. Now I’m just building furniture.”

For more of Lyle Todd’s furniture, go to labyrinthadoners.co.uk

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