The sights and smells of Latrobe wood crafts

Keith Holliday’s corner of the Axeman’s Makers Market at Latrobe has the familiar, comforting aromas of Tasmanian timbers.

The large display is filled with different varieties of light and dark wood, crafted into different shapes and designs.

“I use Huon pine, King Billy pine, Celery Top pine, Blackwood, Myrtle, Sassafras and numerous others,” Mr Holliday said.

“I get timber from all over Tasmania.”

The Port Sorell man’s favourite type of wood to work with is Horizontal Scrub, a slow-growing tree unique to Western Tasmania.

“Bushwalkers hate it because they fall over it all the time, but it’s got very strong bark that doesn’t come off, and I love working with it. It’s got a slightly purple, grey colour.”

Mr Holliday spent a chunk of his life working at the Wesley Vale paper mill, before taking a redundancy in 1991.

From there, he turned his wood craft hobby into a business.

“I’m not a millionaire but it’s paid for my milk and bread, and I enjoy what I do.

“I reckon when I die, I’ll still have a piece of timber in my hand. They’ll have to prise it out.”

Mr Holliday generally starts with a large piece of timber or plank of wood, which he breaks into smaller sizes.

“I then put it through the thicknesser, and through the buzzer to get it straight and dressed to size.”

I’m not a millionaire but it’s paid for my milk and bread, and I enjoy what I do. I reckon when I die, I’ll still have a piece of timber in my hand. - Keith Holliday

Next, he sands the timber and either burns a pattern onto it or leaves it natural.

Many of his pieces have drawings on them, which he designs.

“Since I was 13, I’ve enjoyed drawing.”

Customers often come to Mr Holliday with an idea of what they want and he draws it up for them.

“To draw and burn a picture, it usually takes around four hours. For a sign and a clock, it takes about six hours from start to finish.”

Mr Holliday said he “wastes nothing”, using the off cuts as drawer deodorisers. He cuts them into tiny animal shapes and the natural aromas give drawers a pleasant smell.

“I love the whole process of wood crafts, especially the poker work. You get a nice aroma doing that.

“It’s the creativity, the smell – everything.”

Mr Holliday has been a regular stallholder at the Sunday market since it first started.

“I love it. I’ve had repeat customers, or I’ve had tourists from the mainland. Someone will something home to Nowra, for example, and then someone comes in and says, ‘my mum bought this or that’.”

  • The market is 9am to 3pm every Sunday
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