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Barefoot wanderer; oracle craftsman; friend of Finisterre. James Otter fled from coast to city to talk shop over two evenings and to host our first hand-plane workshop in the London store. Shoes off at the door.

There is a wildness to the city surfer: a hunger for tidal savagery, for getting in the thick of it - escaping the urban landscape and grappling nature in its purest form. What better way to harness that hunger than to place a saw in their hand and help them create something that will last for generations to come.

Two sold out talks and shaping sessions brought new faces and regular customers together, the smell of wood and clouds of sawdust drifting in and out of our London store. It was a sight to behold: strangers, surfers, body boarders and novice sea-farers alike mucking in to craft the humble hand-plane.

Onto the workshops: loosening up over the four hours, these practical strangers united over an excitement to make something tangible and call it their own. Premium Japanese tools in hand, James guided the group throughout the design, cutting and finishing process, careful to instruct but never obstruct their experience.

Embossing their own names or dedicating hand-planes to friends or relatives, we saw how the simple process of working with your hands creates a sense of camaraderie often seen at sea.

A big thanks to James for taking time to spend a few days in the city, inspiring us all to get back to basics, reawaken our hands, and plan a trip to the coast to use our newfound toys.

©Film and stills courtesy of Al Bendal


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