“Mum says I have sawdust in my veins,” says Tamworth man Jack Massey about his chance start making timber furniture and kitchenware.
Jack gives a tour of the Massey family home of 18 years, on 40-hectares outside Tamworth in northern inland NSW, proudly pointing out dining tables, side tables and marquetry made by master craftsmen Jack’s father Steve, and grandfather, John.
A short walk from the house is a corrugated iron shed with a timber dining table in progress, and Jack’s latest work displayed, a range of hand carved spoons and knives in various lengths and timbers; American Walnut, English Oak, Camphor Laurel, Cherry, Blackwood, Red Mahogany, and Myrtle.
Jack holds and turns his creations in his hands with great care and affection, each spoon hand carved chip by chip from a block of wood.
“It’s Jack’s answer to knitting,” girlfriend Claudia Byrnes says, describing how he carves spoons as he watches television, trying to keep check on flying pieces of timber despite a basket dedicated to catching them.
“I love coming home and making spoons. It relieves stress, is very therapeautic and a great release,” Jack says.
By day Jack is a Town Planner and commutes 45 minutes by car to work. Home is a house in Tamworth with Claudia, within walking distance of the regional city’s busy CBD, and a short drive to his parents’ property and the shed, woodworking tools, and machinery he shares with his father.
“I got into woodwork when I was at school and made a pool table,” Jack says.
“About six months ago I started making grazing boards for Weswal Gallery, Tamworth, and then just had a go carving spoons.
“There’s a real spoon making community online, that is very supportive and generous with advice on tools, carving techniques and where to source timber.”
In six months Jack has made 30-40 spoons and refined the process that starts with drawing a spoon shape, carving the bowl of the spoon, cutting the shape with a band saw, and gradually whittling to achieve the desired shape.
Finishing involves sanding, burnishing the timber with a stone to remove loose fibres, and polishing with a mixture of homemade beeswax and mineral oil.
Jack says he’s observed a renewed appreciation of kitchenware handmade from natural materials.
Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores, Nundle is stocking six of Jack’s designs: American Walnut spoon, Camphor Laurel cooking spoon, Camphor Laurel scoop, Camphor Laurel lefty righty spoon, Camphor Laurel classic serving spoon, and American Walnut mini serving spoon.
Each spoon takes hours to make and the finished piece is a delight to hold and use.