Cabinet for mead from friend indeed

19:57, Jul 12 2014
Ray Henwood with his gift from Sir Peter Jackson
PRECIOUS: Ray Henwood with his gift from Sir Peter Jackson.

A bottle of mead given to Ray Henwood by Sir Peter Jackson now has a home in a hand-crafted wooden cabinet made by The Hobbit actor.

Henwood uses his summers to hone his skills as a hobby woodworker. Recently his wife Carolyn bought him a two-week course at Nelson's Centre for Fine Woodworking as a birthday present, where he made the cabinet. The father of New Zealand comedian Dai Henwood says he became interested in woodwork as a child in Wales but only recently became reacquainted with the art.

Henwood says the time flew when he disappeared into his workshop at his Piha bach. It was a good way to relax and recharge, he says. While at the two-week course Henwood learned woodworking techniques like dovetailing, coopering and how to process raw wood so it was ready to work with.

Henwood made the cabinet with the bottle of mead in mind but traditionally similar cabinets were used to store a favourite bottle of scotch, a couple of tumblers and cigars, he says.

Henwood had one-on-one lessons with tutor Thorkild Hansen and was inspired by other woodworkers' time, patience and skill. "In the modern world when everything must happen yesterday it's quite a relief really."

Henwood says he appreciated the hands-on approach at the centre. "You get a hell of a lot more than a diploma."


The mead would now sit in its cabinet until it reached the ideal age, he says.

Centre for Fine Woodworking school manager Helen Gerry says the registered charity had been running for about seven years. The school offered both a nine-month intensive course and short two or three-week courses.

Gerry says most of the students used to be middle-aged men but there was a growing range of people enrolling, from 13-year-olds to 84-year-olds.

Gerry says there was a shift back towards more hand-crafted furniture and household items.

"There's a swing back the other way. People realise that the cheap stuff they buy is made really badly." There were also a lot of women, who were probably banned from their father's workshop, she says.

The centre's middle-aged students often took the courses for their mental health as it was important to take time away from their work and day-to-day lives, says Gerry.

National Association of Woodworkers president Andrew Bright says it would be good to have more short courses open to people interested in woodworking.

At the moment most woodworkers were the older generation, Bright says.

It was difficult for children to become involved when schools were closing woodworking facilities and removing the courses from the curriculum, he says.

"There are a lot of people out there doing it in their own back sheds and no one knows about it."

Sunday Star Times