Ready for a different kind of designer? We speak to Ben Ide of Ben’s Wood Den in Winton about his rollercoaster relationship with his craft. And what prompted him to take on woodwork full-time…?
Ben’s Wood Den, owned and run by Ben Ide, is a Winton-based woodcraft freelance project focused on creating bespoke furniture and fabrications that provide modern lifestyle solutions. For example, phone docking stations, knife blocks and storage.
Ben is a father of five kids, and worked in private healthcare for 15 years. When lockdown began, his focus shifted back to his earlier trade of carpentry. Creating made-to-order unique woodcrafts and furniture features.
Originally from Portsmouth, Ben’s talent was inspired by his creative attitude for making something unique. He now lives in Bournemouth and operates full-time as a woodsman. His talents include his ability to make something to order — designing anything you require. Ben has a very crafty repertoire of products already on sale too. Quirky and convenient, his modern edge in woodcraft is quite impressive.
WHAT IS BEN’S WOOD DEN ALL ABOUT?
I started doing it as it’s always been a hobby. I’ve been doing woodwork since I was about 12. I don’t have got any qualifications on paper; just taught myself over the years. I actually had my own carpentry business a few years ago now — not called Ben’s Wood Den – but I ended up stopping it because it was rather stressful. Too much work and I couldn’t keep on top of it. Travelling about all over the place making custom beds for kids. I made a Lego bed with stairs up to the bed, pull-out drawers and stuff like that. But I stopped because it was stressing me out — it was becoming more of a job than a hobby.
Then I started doing it again a few years ago, just making odd bits for around the house. A couple of months ago I changed jobs. I’ve actually been working in care for the last 11 years, and I was at the point where I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it anymore. I also wasn’t sure what to do instead… if I changed jobs to something else, I’d be starting from the bottom again. So I turned my focus back to woodworking, because my Facebook page has been there for ages.
WHAT INFLUENCED YOU TO DO WOODWORK?
I wouldn’t say I have been influenced. But when my dad was alive he bought all my tools. I had a table saw and a round saw when I was 12. The only person in my family who has done woodwork is my mum’s dad. He used to build stage sets and stuff in the West End.
WHAT SORT OF THINGS DO YOU MAKE AT BEN’S WOOD DEN?
I like the variety of the orders that I get. At the moment, I’m doing a memory box for someone. I have a sofa arm table – to put a cup of coffee or whatever. Also, somebody asked me to make them a fishing lure. I’ve just finished making three puzzle-boards for someone, with pull-out drawers and things like that. It’s all different.
I’ve made phone holders for us around the house, and sold quite a lot of those. Recently, I’ve started doing my website. It’s very brief at the moment because I’m building stuff all through the day. I get knackered doing school runs, and in the evening, I want to sit down and do quotes and try and draw in a bit more business. But it is difficult obviously, as it is just me.
WHERE DO YOU SEE BEN’S WOOD DEN IN 5 YEARS TIME?
I’m hoping one day, if I had my way, I will just be building stuff and there would be someone else dealing with enquiries. I hope that it grows — I’m doing it full time and what I’m earning at the moment could be better. That’s something to aim for — to feel a bit more secure. It’s a bit of a balancing act really.
WHAT ONE PIECE OF WORK ARE YOU PARTICULARLY PROUD OF?
I have five kids, so in their bedroom I built beds for the three youngest. They’re kind of bunkbeds but it’s in a sort of pyramid shape. So you have two single beds across the bottom, and the top bed in the middle between the two. I really like that — it is solid. I have no idea how I’m going to take it apart, but I am really proud of those.
Also the puzzle-boards I made recently… they’re fairly big. The actual bit where the puzzle goes is 1m x 70cm. Underneath, there’s little pull-out drawers, which look really good too.
WHAT ATTRIBUTES DO YOU NEED TO BE GOOD AT WOODWORK?
I think I’m quite creative — I wouldn’t say artistic, but other people have said I am. You have to be good at problem solving, in my opinion. If something doesn’t work how you planned, either do it a different way or come up with a solution for how it’s going to work. Sometimes I draw it out first, in a plan with measurements. With other projects, I make it without planning.
I think it’s different to being a carpenter on a building site building timber frame walls, because that’s cutting wood to length and fitting it together. I like the reactions from the customers I’ve had. Planning something out with them is nice. Recently somebody asked me for a storage box that converts into a portable easel. Something that I would never have thought of, but they loved it.
HOW DO YOU GET INSPIRATION TO MAKE PRODUCTS?
If I see things then I always try to adapt them slightly to make them my own. I don’t want to copy other people’s work. Sometimes things just pop into my head. Or there might be something I need around the house, so I’ll make it. Recently made a TV bracket to put our TV on the wall as the one we had was too small so I adapted it and made it so it would fit.
Visit Ben’s website and Facebook to see more of his products and to contact him for enquiries. For more local design stories, click here. And don’t forget to follow us on our social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube!