Steve Plumb joined Falkus Joinery in early 2017 as a joinery apprentice. In that time, as well as juggling his studies at The Building Crafts College (level 2 in bench joinery) and his work commitments, he has proved to be a vital member of the team and has already begun to climb the ranks, and was recently promoted to Junior Joiner.
Having previously worked as a display artist, he made the decision to up skill and change career. Keen to understand his draw to the industry, we caught up with Steve to pick his brain.
How did you first get into joinery?
My first joinery experience was in my early 20’s whilst working as a Display Artist for Urban Outfitters, building POS fixtures and window displays. The actual joinery was very basic compared to what I do now, but it definitely helped develop my work ethic and appreciation for working with wood.
Describe an average day in the workshop
Each day is different. As an apprentice, I’m often working/assisting on several jobs at once so the main focus of each day is working out how best to divide my time so that I can work as efficiently as possible. That being said, sometimes big projects can mean that you spend the whole day in the shed ripping large quantities of timber down to size, but luckily most days are far more varied than that! I love the pace of working in the City and it’s great to have a big jobs list all ticked off at the end of the day.
What the best part of your job?
Working with my hands (and brain!). With joinery, I find it easy to become completely absorbed in whatever I’m doing. It’s such a satisfying and creative way to spend time.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Early mornings and the constant noise of the workshop.
What could the industry do to encourage more women to get into joinery and construction?
I think the actual industry is far more diverse than many people realise, it just has a bit of an image problem. There are plenty of women already working in construction, admittedly there could be more, but the industry needs to celebrate them more and perhaps make more of an effort to reach out women and girls in education who are looking for career inspiration.
What do you think the future holds for joinery – do you think this will be 100% machine based in the future?
I don’t think fine joinery can ever be completely machine based. A big part of job is learning to understand the natural properties of wood and using this knowledge to influence how you work with it. A machine would struggle to match grains, choose the most ascetically pleasing face on a board or even select the best timber for the job.
It’s hard to say what the future holds, but with the high demand for construction and development in the City, I think it’s safe to say that joinery’s here to stay.
What advice would you give to individuals who are trying to break into the industry?
Do all that you can just to get your foot in the door, even if that means starting out from the very bottom. If you are willing to listen, work hard and learn then you can progress very quickly. Even if you have no experience, companies always value people who are reliable and willing to work.