Q&A: Woodturner Andy Coates

19th Apr 2021

Q&A: Woodturner Andy Coates

We spoke to experienced woodturner and author Andy Coates to find out more about his fantastic work! In the past, Andy has kindly described Brandon Bespoke's Wax Treatment as being close to 'the Holy Grail for finishes'; regardless of which finishes he uses, we are continuously impressed by his work!

Brandon Bespoke: Can you explain what it is that you do?

Andy Coates: I’m a full-time woodturner, and work from a workshop in Beccles, Suffolk. I do work for a wide range of other trades, through Antique restoration to bespoke work for builders and architects, and just about everything in between. All my work is hand turned so no CNC turning. I make speculative work to sell direct and undertake commissions from private customers, companies and institutions. Prior to the pandemic I also demonstrated and taught, but lockdown put and end to that and I have decided not to recommence either in the immediate future.

BB: Did you have much experience with wood before focussing on woodturning in 2003?

AC: I had minimal experience with working with wood prior to starting turning, but was bitten by the bug after seeing a burr Oak bowl my Father-in-law had made, and after moving to Suffolk from London bought a new lathe and a shed and spent seven days a week for twelve months making round firewood. I learned a lot from other turners, books, DVDs and demonstrations and used everything I gleaned to improve. Three years later I was selling work and had been accepted onto the Register of Professional Turners, which I have since resigned from, and onto the committee of the AWGB where I served for eleven years, latterly as Chairman, before stepping down.

BB: What are some of the best pieces you've made?

AC: I’ve turned thousands and thousands of pieces over the years, and selecting favourites is almost impossible ... but a few I remember are:

Acacia burr bowl:

Ash crotch-feature platter:

Sycamore pot:

Ash pot – Art Quote Series:

Sycamore lidded bowl:

Sycamore bowl:

Coffee mugs:

Light bulb:

BB: Lockdowns have led to people starting projects at home, but it's also badly affected some businesses. Have you had to adapt much to recent challenges?

AC: The only adapting I’ve had to do is adapting to lost income. Both trade and private customers have obviously been unable to come to the workshop, and demonstrations and teaching had to stop, so the last year has been a difficult year to say the least. Thankfully, my online sales have been consistent through the year and I also write for Woodturning magazine and do the technical editing for the publisher, and a commission to revise an iconic woodturning book by Keith Rowley has kept me busy, and kept the workshop bills paid.

BB: Finally, we couldn't forget to mention wood treatments! Do you have a preference, or does it depend on the type of project?

AC: Finish is always project specific, but as generalisation I prefer an oil or wax/oil finish. I really only use high-shine finishes on coloured work because I finish with UV-protected lacquer to ensure longevity of the colouring. I make a lot of utility ware and that is always finished in food-safe oil, so I go through a lot of that!

Visit Andy's website to see his shop and more of his work!