Workmanship of risk…

…The Dynamic Duo

A week or so ago, I suggested that a maker cutting their teeth in the real world should design a piece that avoids creating excessive risk. Risk, that is, to the maker, as chances are the piece will not only be a total nightmare to make, it will probably also be rather inelegant.

So who in their right mind would throw this kind of practical advice out the window?

Well David Savage for one!

Where I believe Rowden excels is in the logical progression of the skills that each and every student masters during their time here. Each skill has to be mastered before the student can progress to the next set of skills. And each skill is typically demonstrated through a practical project, like a cross halving or dovetailed bookend. All very disciplined. All very confidence inspiring.

When David and Daren get together to create a new Savage piece, simple, logical, and free-of-risk are concepts that are thrown out of the window before pen is put to paper. Before paper is even put on the table!

From passion to perfection

David has a particular passion, particularly over the last 5 or 10 years, in creating pieces that appear to have an elegant simplicity, but are just loaded to the gills with workmanship of risk. No two ways about it, David has a devilish desire to create surfaces, details and edge treatments that no machine can create and few makers would dare contemplate. These are pieces so loaded with multiple, interdependent elements that any slip-ups can lead to disaster. 

You can almost see Daren’s eyes light up at the prospect of solving the ‘making puzzles’ that are created from the riddles strewn across David’s designs.

This magical dynamic has created a number of stunning pieces that go completely against the thought that one might want to work within one’s skill set. 

David and Daren are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to achieving the seemingly impossible, creating harmonious pieces that are so loaded with risk that most mere mortals wouldn’t even know where to start.

And that’s the kind of environment that I, and hundreds of other students, have had the good fortune to be trained in. Very much a ‘do as I say, and if you’re feeling very, very confident, do as I do’!

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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