Lucia Graves talks to Andrew Holloway, director of Green Oak Carpentry Company and a former potter, about why he switched from ceramics to wood.
What made you decide to drop ceramics and become a carpenter?
When I was a potter, I built my own kilns and repaired the building. I began to realise that I was a carpenter, not a potter, so I sold up and retrained.

What does the Green Oak Carpentry Company do?
We are architects, designers and specialist carpenters. We focus on the design and construction of traditional and modern timber structures such as barns, homes, trussed roofs, conservatories, and garden structures. We became involved in design out of frustration with the lack of understanding of timber buildings in the profession. We tend to work on projects which require a high level of carpentry skill and design experience. We have 10 full-time staff, plus subcontractors, so there are 17 or 18 of us overall.

What advice would you give someone wanting to become a carpenter?
The City & Guilds is a good starting point. After that, it is very important to find someone who will spend time training you.

What are your current projects?
We are building the structural oak frame of a Buddhist monastery in West Sussex. We are also working on a new archive and workshop for the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, which has a fine collection of traditional vernacular buildings from the Kent, Sussex, Weald and Hampton Downland areas. This is a gridshell structure, the fourth or fifth of its kind to be built in the world and the first in Britain. The website says the exercise will require the skills of a "carpenter-sculptor-acrobat" because, although it is carpentry, it uses a sophisticated scaffold that you have to climb over while it is in the air.

Describe your average day
I meet clients, discuss their brief and try to achieve a budget. I also run the business, run the carpentry team and co-ordinate the design work. I am usually in by 7.30am and leave at about 6pm. I try not to work at the weekend but I sometimes come in on Saturday.

Do you use sustainable timber?
Yes. It is easier to source sustainable wood from temperate forests. Suppliers of tropical timbers sometimes describe their products as "sustainable", but they are sourced in tropical climates with fragile ecosystems. It is very difficult to log tropical timber without destroying the ecosystem.

What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue to develop a reputation for excellence. We are looking at the possibility of setting up an additional framing yard.

Personal details

Age: 43
Current job: Director, Green Oak Carpentry Company
Employment history: After a degree in ceramics, he ran a potting workshop with his wife for seven years. In 1986, he retrained as a carpenter. He founded Green Oak Carpentry Company 10 years ago
Qualifications: BA Hons Ceramics, West Surrey College of Art and Design
Lives: Farm cottage in Langley, Hampshire
Salary: About £35,000
Drives: Shogun
Family: Married with two children