22 November 2017


  • Wood Grain NZ
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Wood Grain NZ

In a world so saturated with single-use products, it’s always a treat stumbling across someone making things that last. As it happens, wood worker David Gillard cites that as being one of the best things about his job – working with trees that are hundreds or sometimes thousands of years old, and giving them a new lease on life.

David’s love of woodwork was initially discovered when he enrolled in a building course in Australia. Drawn to details and joinery, he was advised by his tutor at the time to hone those skills and give up the building industry altogether – advice we’re happy to report he followed. On his return to New Zealand, David purchased a wood lathe and started playing around with it. After making a few things and seeing how appreciated they were by his family and friends, David realised that there was a way he could turn his hobby into a business – and WoodGrain NZ was born.

Now David makes a wide variety of products from his downstairs studio at home in Auckland. He works only with recycled timber – which as well as being sustainable, also tells the best kind of stories. Most of this timber was hand logged during the 19th and early 20th Century – so while it retains its beautiful quality, it also has a history; one you can see in nail holes, gum veins and marks from weathering. For David, it’s a pretty special aspect of his work – “to have something that was alive for years – and then cut down to be built into a house or into flooring – and being able to turn it into something beautiful. A one of a kind piece that can be appreciated or used all over again.”

As far as creative process goes, David reckons it all depends on the bit of wood in front of him. “Sometimes I plan it from the start. I never write anything down first though – I just see it in my head. Other times I let the wood show me.  As the wood is turning away, I can see the shape and form its making, and sometimes it’s nice just to rough-turn something, then sit it aside somewhere where I can see it. That way I can just let the piece develop in my head, and return to it later.”

Although he’s been working for wood for years, David can still find surprise and delight in the creativity of his job. These days he’s looking to move forward into more wood art – enjoying the way it allows him to push boundaries as he manipulates and highlights the timber. “The possibilities are endless…you can go in any direction, and move between creative ideas. There’s a lot of joy in learning something new everyday. That’s what I love about it.”

Location Auckland
Words by Chessie Henry & Images by Supplied