Katie Abbott

Pole Lathe Turner

Katie is a key British Pole-Lathe Turner and manages her woodland in Essex despite having moved North to Hexham. Nick and Katie Abbott worked together to produce some of the finest Greenwood Furniture. Following Nicks death in 2016 Katie remains one of the countries best pole-lathe turners and takes on some small commissions. Katie has sat on, and been an active member of, the Howe Committee which ‘promotes the craft of turning, on behalf of the Court.’


This is the Archive statement about the large body of work made by Nick and Katie Abbott.

Nick and Katie Abbott.

Managing our own 25 acres of Essex woodland since 1980 has powerfully influenced our furniture making, as our amateur enthusiasm transformed into professional commitment. We have put aside lifetimes in the law and in teaching to learn the traditions of English country chairmaking. We increasingly use our own trees, oak, sweet chestnut, cherry, beech, looking elsewhere for ash, elm and yew. Green wood requires the maker to have an understanding of the nature of the timber he is using; sometimes that is difficult to predict, but on the other hand this intimate involvement gives one the chance to exploit unexpected discoveries – a very happy serendipity! This can arise not only in cleaving young poles but also in the milling of larger butts of oak and sweet chestnut with our chainsaw mill. It is always an exciting moment when one opens up a sawn log and sees inside what has been hidden from all eyes till then. Getting this close to our raw material means that our chairs will never be identical, though clearly children of the same parents. We stay in the wide range of the English country tradition, partly because it is so wide, and partly because the chairs are so comfortable and so comely that it would be presumptuous to imagine one could improve on them by radical alteration. Nonetheless, each piece is unique.


Unlike much other furniture, chairs are very personal things. It matters that each person should find one that is comfortable for him or her. None of us have been mass-produced, and we will not necessarily fit into a mass-produced product. We therefore encourage our customers to come to us and try out some of the chairs we use ourselves, to ensure that we make ones that our customer will be happy with.

We also make dining tables, and smaller ones and stools, as well as inscribed bread boards (ideal wedding presents!). Nearly all of our work is commissioned, and we are very ready to discuss a project with a customer, who can thus have an input to the resulting piece.

Kathleen is one of the few women selected for inclusion on the Register of Professional Turners maintained by the Worshipful Company of Turners of London and, at the time of her selection, the only one turning on a pole-lathe. She is also a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Turners.

Chairs of ours have been voted “Best in Show” in 2000, 2005 and again in 2010, at the annual national competitions staged by the Association of Pole-lathe Turners.

Katie’s oral history

As part of our Society’s archive project, we have collected oral histories from all of our members.

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