About the workshop

Gary Southwell in his workshop The river Rede flows close by my workshop. Above are views of the hills, moorlands and woods where I walk with my hawks and hounds before my day of guitar making begins.

The first comment most people make when stepping inside my workshop is that it has a wonderful smell. The mix of stored woods, newly cut timber, homemade oils and varnish all make for a very special aroma.

Hobbs the owl on a pile of wood in Gary's workshop As you would expect I have a prized selection of woods here. A great stack of the finest bog oak available, plus a mix of much loved native maples, walnut and yew. Most prized of all are some 100 German spruce soundboards gifted to me by Julian Bream. These were bought in the 1970s with the help of David Rubio, they are fabulous tops now air dried for over 45 years. It doesn’t get any better than this.

I work mostly with hand tools, which is what I grew up with, how I learnt and what I still find the most enjoyable.

I am always happy to welcome people to visit. Come and relax, play and talk guitars, then maybe take a walk with the dogs, and end up calling in to the local village pub.

Some favourite tools

Planes used by Gary Southwell on his guitars An old Stanley plane that belonged to my father is still very much in use today. It is both a fine tool to use and always reminds me of watching him work with it in his own workshop all those years ago. An antique Norris smoothing plane which was the first tool I bought as a student from a London street market. This small bog oak block plane was made specially for me by Konrad Sauer, a master tool maker from Canada.

Rasps / files used by Gary Southwell on his guitars Sometimes an unexpected tool becomes a favourite. These are 2 giant rasp/files; I remember remarking on them when the farrier would trim our horses hooves. He gifted me this pair and I have used them for many years and they are just the best for rough shaping necks.

Simple scraper used by Gary Southwell on his guitars The simple scraper. Maybe the most difficult tool to learn to sharpen and use but once mastered one of the most rewarding.

Varnish used by Gary Southwell on his guitars The final touches: handmade spirit and oil varnishes and a beeswax made with help from my own bees.