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My Working Day – James Hatter

Wednesday 11 July 2018

James Hatter has been contributing to woodworking magazines for over 10 years, and as a woodworker whose projects consist almost entirely of improvements and furniture for his own home and for his two daughters, he was the perfect candidate for our new DIY series. James uses up everything he can find, and he attributes his resourcefulness and penchant for handywork, as many do, to his father: “I had a very practical father. He was an engineer who had that war generation mentality where anything of any use got used and never wasted – that certainly rubbed off on me!”

After years in technical electrical work, James earned a degree in Experimental Psychology, worked for the Ministry of Defence, and finally as a teacher before taking early retirement. However, retirement certainly hasn't stopped James from working, and when he isn't in the workshop or the allotment, he gives DIY classes to adults in areas such as electrics, plumbing and of course woodwork. For this and for his own projects, there are many regulations which he has to keep up with.

Much of James's time is spent in his workshop – a converted summer house in his garden – making things for his home from tables and chairs to garden furniture and even a complete extension. He was halfway through making a wedge-shaped coffee table to fit an awkward space in his daughter's flat when we paid our visit, but he won't be putting his feet up once that's done – his skills are in high demand, and there's always more to make for his home, his family, and of course us at WPP!

James's Golden Rules:

“Study all aspects of an intended task, share ideas with others, and welcome feedback – be prepared to make changes if necessary to get a better result. Don't take risks in personal safety or the safety of others.”


1. The smell of freshly sawn oak

2. The satisfaction of successfully completing a task, especially if it improves someone's wellbeing


1. A cold or cluttered workshop, limiting the work that can be achieved in it

2. Impoliteness, and inconsiderate actions shown by some to

others, especially when they are not able to defend themselves