It’s not just a cup of tea

It’s not just a cup of tea

You’d think it would be enough to be able to create a business out of doing something you love. Furniture designer-makers should count their blessings that we spend our day at the bench, working hard to produce items of beauty for the paying public. It is easy to feel guilty that our day not only includes a healthy lunch break, but also two (count ‘em!) tea breaks. Talking to someone who spends maybe 10 hours stuck to a desk and a screen, it is possible to feel a touch guilty when we say that we have tea breaks because we need them… no… really!

And yet a tea break is so much more than just an excuse to slack off for 20 minutes. It is so much more than that.

Cabinetmaking is exhausting, both physically and mentally. It is not unusual to heft around timber weighing the wrong side of 20 or 30kgs, dragging it from trucks and wood racks. Lugging lumps of wood across table saws and planers, and through thicknessers. And that’s before you start clamping up dining table tops and carcasses for chests of drawers. A day can be filled with routing 2” thick components, jointing big slabs and sanding what can feel like acres of surface area.

It is, frankly, knackering!

The tea break tradition is designed to ensure a break from the labour. It is a chance to rest the limbs,  to restore your energy. It is revitalising, timed just before tiredness sets in. I can only imagine how many more accidents there would be if we worked without breaks every day for stretches of 4 hours or more.

So, the tea break is one of those wonderful guilty pleasures. We take them every day, before we ever feel we really need them. And knowing full well that so many people don’t have that luxury, yet confident in the knowledge that it’s just the right thing to do.

It’s also very sociable, especially with a chocolate digestive to top it off!

Until next time,



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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