MASTER cabinet maker John Beavan made his first piece of furniture at the age of seven – he cut up his mum’s ironing board to create a chair.

He even upholstered it and, in his attempt to finish off his creation to a high standard, he managed to cover himself in varnish. While his mum wasn’t unduly concerned, his dad was most definitely not impressed.

The 51-year-old, who with his wife Nicki runs a bespoke luxury furniture business at Kyre, near Tenbury Wells, was brought up at Boraston on the Worcestershire/Shropshire border and originally wanted to be a farmer.

But while attending Lucton School, in Herefordshire, he developed his interest in woodwork and was given the keys to the woodwork shop. He wanted to repair things at the school and also started making things on his own – crafting cabinets for the headmaster.

Struggling with his dyslexia, history and woodwork were his favourite subjects at school – specialisms he has successfully combined in his business creating furniture for wealthy and famous people all over the world.

He went on, aged 17, to do a two-year course in furniture design and making and fine craftsmanship at Shrewsbury College of Art and knew he wanted to set up his own furniture-making business. According to John his college tutor had a zest for it and guided the class in mastering problems.

John connected deeply with this aspect which has become one of the core themes at the heart of his work. He aims to make the impossible – possible. “It is so easy to say ‘No, it can’t be done’. There is nothing that’s impossible,” he said.

John works with traditional hand tools and uses age old techniques to craft beautiful bespoke pieces of furniture. He is without doubt a perfectionist, although he argues that nothing is ever perfect and could always be made better.

John added: “I look at the drawings a week or 10 days before I start and I have made it in my head before I start. I think of things that could go wrong. I try and solve all the problems before I start because I have already made it in my head.”

Being able to visualise how something will look before it is made is a quality found in many people with dyslexia and is certainly a hugely important asset in John’s work.

As a child John’s dyslexia affected his confidence but now he is convinced it has been a major factor in striving for perfection and success in working with wood - undertaking projects others in his field would hesitate to attempt.

“Most people with dyslexia want to prove other people wrong,” he said. He is now recognised as one of England’s finest cabinet makers and works with acclaimed architects and designers. Some of John’s work has been sold in Southeby’s and Christies in New York.

He has such a strong connection and feeling for wood it basically talks to him. His favourite is English walnut, which he describes as “breathtaking”.

“It speaks volumes when you plane it and cut it. All timber is alive, but walnut is fantastic and the end result just blows you away.”

“I love my work. I work because I love it and I love working with wood.”

This passion for wood and creating beautiful unique functional pieces is obvious from thumbing through his catalogue, which can be found by visiting

He has been commissioned to do work for wealthy customers all over the world – customer confidentiality prevents him revealing exactly who - and his pieces can be found in lavish homes as far afield as Dubai, Australia and Russia.

“I try to deal with customers who want the impossible. That is what I like. If people think it is impossible to make a piece of furniture, I want to do it. There are no difficulties that can’t be overcome.”

From highly ornate replica Regency chairs to a contemporary minimalist rosewood and bronze sculptured dining table and repairing the mullioned windows in a 300-year-old farmhouse, there isn’t much he won’t consider.

“I had to make a chair from a photograph and that was quite something. One of Thomas Chippingdale’s son’s made the original. The most difficult job I have done was curved shutters with curved mitres.”

He even made 20 bespoke wooden household waste-paper baskets and 20 matching tissue boxes for one client.

John and his team, which consists of a small number of dedicated craftsmen with skills in gold-leafing, carving, marquetry – often combining these with metals and glass, have worked with historic building specialists Nick Joyce Architects Ltd, in Barbourne, Worcester, on many projects.

That collaboration lead to one of John’s latest commissions – the two tonnes oak doors and frame creating a majestic entrance to New Place - a garden run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon.

“I have just made the doors as they would have made them 400 years ago.” The fittings are bronze and it took three days to bend and clench all the bronze-head nails in the doors.

“We would not be the fastest cabinet makers in the world but we try to do it in the traditional way and do it right. The doors were scraped and sanded by hand to give the best finish and all the edges were softened.”

Apart from honouring traditional materials and skills during the project, John also had to consider certain health and safety issues such as ease of opening and whether they could knock someone over if the wind caught them.

John said: “I am very honoured that they gave me this job. William Shakespeare was one of the people who made England great and I am honoured beyond belief. It is a privilege to do something for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

“I am very happy with the doors and it gives me a warm feeling inside. It is heart-warming that I have had the privilege to do something that hopefully will be there for some time.”

The doors were installed last month and New Place opened to the public on Saturday August 20. It is the site of Shakespeare’s last home and where he wrote many of his famous plays. The house, which is where he died 400 years ago, was demolished in 1759 but the garden has been designed to commemorate the site’s importance and allow visitors to make their own personal connection with the bard.

The New Place manager Chloe Malendewicz said: “The gateway will give visitors a sense of the grandeur of the house that once stood behind it and mark a fitting entrance to the site. The structure reflects Shakespeare's high position within the local community as well as being a visual marker of his wealth.

“Working with an outstanding community of artists, designers and craftspeople, we have created together an extraordinary place of inspiration for everyone to enjoy.

“The re-opening of Shakespeare’s New Place means we can now tell the complete story of Shakespeare’s life from boyhood to father, husband, businessman and playwright and of his enduring ability to inspire artists today."