January 2019




newsletter header

newsletter 27, January 2019:


Happy new year everyone!


This is a long overdue newsletter to post some course dates for the first half of 2019 – and a few other snippets of news.


In all sorts of ways the second half of 2018 was not a good time and most of what I’ve been trying to achieve has been substantially delayed for a bewildering array of reasons, not least ongoing [and vastly overrunning] work to extend my workshop space. Others too, but I’ll not bore you with any of them now, just to let you know that, despite having been off the radar for a while, I’m still here!


I apologise to anyone that has contacted me recently and hasn’t had a reply. I accidentally lost a whole load of email recently when doing some email ‘housework’ and due to the general chaos simply didn’t get round to answering a lot of correspondence. I’ve been trying to clear the backlog since the new year and I’ve replied to most now, I think, but anyone who still hasn’t received an answer please feel free to email me again and I promise I will respond more quickly!


workshop expansion:


smartBoxmaker workshop redevelopment


So, there is extensive work underway at the fine boxes workshops. Soon after newsletter 26, back in July, the long overdue work kicked in for real. But progress has been stultifyingly slow and it’s all taking hugely longer than expected. And as I rent the buildings from the Acton Scott Estate much of this has been out of my hands and the resulting chaos has largely prevented me from running my courses. I did manage a little bit of one-to-one in amongst the debris, but it has all been very frustrating and unsatisfactory.


The smartBoxmaker on the roof is just me messing about with PhotoShop again when I should be working. But it could be useful to alert any passing helicopter pilots – more of that anon.


a major change:

smartBoxmaker workshop redevelopment


When I moved up here in 2004 my new workshop was 4 times the size that I had in London [and a quarter of the cost] and I wouldn’t have believed that I would ever be needing more space. But it’s a rule of life, of course, that we grow to fill the space we’re in! And I guess I didn’t reckon with having many of the tools or machines I now have, or that running the courses would become such a major part of my activities.


breaking eggs:

smartBoxmaker workshop redevelopment


Actually the work is only just reaching the end of the breaking eggs stage, around 4 months after I was assured everything would be complete! Above is a small sample, so chaos still reigns. But I think the omelette making is finally starting in earnest. When all is complete I will have around 3 times the space I had before, so 12 times the space I had in London. A major change indeed!


Anyway, there’s enough light at the end of the tunnel [assuming it’s not the proverbial freight train coming] for me to believe that there are sunlit uplands just around the corner [too many mixed metaphors – sorry!]. So, at last I can offer some course dates …


2019 course dates:


smartBoxmaker box making courses


Here are the dates from March to July, 2019:

weekends [Saturday and Sunday]:


•  March 9th/10th
•  April 27th/28th
•  May 18th/19th
•  June 8th/9th
•  July 13th/14th


gold 5 day [Thursday – Monday]:


•  March 14th-18th
•  April 11th-15th
•  May 2nd-6th, 23rd-27th
•  June 13th-17th
•  July 4th-8th, 25th-29th


Cost options are as follows – pay discounted up front or a deposit, as you prefer:


weekend course:


  •  full cost of the weekend is £330 – reduced to £295 if you pay up front.
•  or pay 50% – £165 – with the balance due when you attend.


5 day ‘gold’ course:


  •  full cost of the 5 day course is £745 – reduced by 10% to £670 if you pay up front.
•  or pay 30% – £225 – with the balance due when you attend.


booking: as usual the weekend and 5 day courses are offered here to newsletter subscribers in advance of my posting them on the smartBoxmaker website. Unfortunately the new version site won’t be up and running for a little while yet, so for now these aren’t bookable online. So please email me if you’d like to book a place.


For more info on the courses click on ‘weekends’ or ‘gold 5 day’ below. Click on ‘testimonials’ for a small selection of comments from previous participants. There will be many more on the new site [see below].

Main Content Inline Main Content Inline Main Content Inline

one-to-one courses:

smartBoxmaker box making courses


I’ve taught many people on a one-to-one basis, and this is certainly a very efficient way forward. For anyone wanting some one-to-one time the cost is £295 per day, reducing slightly if you come for 3 or more days …

new courses?

smartBoxmaker box making courses


When the extra space is properly organised [when that will be I don’t know, I never really considered that the current workshop was fully organised, and I’ve been here almost 15 years] I intend to widen my repertoire of courses.


French polishing, making inlay lines, a domed top jewellery box – I can offer all these in one-to-one sessions [see above] but I’m considering formalising these into a course format. Watch this space!


Linley smartHinge disgrace



There have been some interesting developments in the long running Linley saga, but I’m keeping my powder dry on that topic for the time being.


For the story so far, check out ‘the LINLEY smartHinge disgrace’ nos. 1-7 on my Instagram feed.


There will be more in the next newsletter, along soon.


inlay lines

some smartBoxmaker news:


I’m keeping this part brief for now, I will update more fully in the next newsletter.


 •  I have snakewood and figured sycamore lines on offer again – go here to buy.


 •  demand still outstrips supply for smartWare by a considerable amount and I’m doing everything I can to ensure that the gap is narrowed.


•  glue bottles, abrasives etc: I will be restocking with these as soon as I have the smartWare flowing again – these low-profit peripherals are more trouble than they’re worth on their own …


•  some have asked recently about my supplying escutcheons – I am considering this and will know more by the next newsletter.


•  I’m hoping that the updated smartBoxmaker website, a restocked online ‘shop’ and the newly refurbished smartBoxmaker premises will all come to fruition around the same time, which is mid-March, around the time I’m re-starting my courses. I am planning an OPEN DAY when things are all running smoothly – this will be in May, date to be announced in the next newsletter.


 •  smartCorner, smartDisc: these projects, I’m afraid, have been shelved for the time being so are very much on the back burner, just to mangle a few more metaphors. I have an area reserved in the new format workshop for my R&D adventures so that work on these can be revisited as possible.


Pete and Chris Lloyd in China!

Pete and Chris Lloyd in China!

I mentioned in newsletter 26 [July 2018] that fellow box maker Peter Lloyd and his wife Chris were in the process of cycling to China. Their goal was ‘wall to wall’ – Hadrian’s one to the rather larger and considerably more intact one in China.


Well, they made it! They arrived at the Great Wall of China a while ago and are now in Thailand and still going strong …


Click on the image to go to their ‘cyclingwalltowall’ website for the full story!


Thank you for reading!

Main Content Inline

Andrew Crawford