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Employee Spotlight: Creating Modern Workplaces and Wood Artwork, Meet John Milner

Blogs and insights

John Milner is a Solutions Architect at the 848 Group specialising in designing, securing, and scaling solutions built on Microsoft modern workplace foundations. In his spare time, he does quite the opposite, he steps away from the digital world and into his hobby of craftsmanship, creating wonderful artwork using woodturning.  

John’s passion for woodturning is more than just a hobby; it’s an art form that allows him to express his skills and precision in a tangible way. From crafting intricate bowls to stunning decorative pieces, John brings the same dedication and attention to detail to his woodworking as he does to his IT projects. 

We spoke to John to learn more about his fascinating hobby, juggling his professional and personal interests, and what inspires him to create such beautiful wooden pieces. 


Q and A with John

  • What inspired you to take up woodturning as a hobby? 

“I was looking for an outlet for my creative expression, something that was in contrast to my day job of cloud computing and writing code. Woodturning appealed to me because of the almost unlimited creative potential and speed at which you can create. I really liked the idea of working with natural materials such as wood to create tangible objects of beauty or function.” 


  • Can you walk us through your process from start to finish on a typical project? 

“I get most of my wood from friends, family and neighbours. So, my process typically starts by cutting large logs to manageable sizes with a chainsaw (quite the workout) and then storing them until it is sufficiently dry for use, a process that can take many months. The wood can then be spun on the wood lathe and cut to the desired shape. I can then choose to embellish with colour, and carvings and apply a finish such as Shellac or Oil. “ 


  • What are some of the tools and equipment you use for woodturning? 

“There are many, the wood lathe, turning chisels and sharpening system are the ones I’ll use on all my projects. My favourites are the ones I’ve designed and made myself, for example, all the spiral pieces have been cut with a custom-made computerised cutting machine. Building machines like this is fun because I get to use skills from my other electronics hobby and get the opportunity to write code that’s very different from the day job.” 


  • Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for new projects? 

“Anywhere I can, from wood shows and holidays to social media. I am often jotting notes and snapping photos into my Microsoft OneNote.”  


  • How do you balance your time between your job and your woodturning hobby? 

“It’s about time management, I’m genuinely passionate about both so it comes down to prioritisation and self-discipline. Certain sacrifices are inevitable, I rarely get time to watch TV for example. 


  • Have you ever taken any formal training or are you self-taught? 

“With the help of books and YouTube, I’ve taught myself. It’s one of those skills that is quick to learn but can take a lifetime to master.” 


  • Do you sell your pieces, give them as gifts, or keep them for yourself? 

“I keep some and give away the rest. I’ve no plans on selling my pieces as I’m focusing on the fun of making them and am purposely unconcerned about effort or value.” 


  • What advice would you give to someone interested in starting woodturning? 

“With the hobby becoming so popular in recent years, many places are now offering taster sessions and beginners courses. I’d say find one in your area and give it a try; you’ll have a great time.” 


  • Are there any woodturning communities or groups that you are part of? 

“My favourite is the #woodturning community on Instagram. There are so many talented turners and everyone is very supportive. You can also have a look at my page on Instagram and see more of what I’ve been working on!”  

Check Out John’s Work on Instagram

If you’re interested in learning more about woodturning, head over to John’s Instagram page, view his projects and processes, and connect with him to find out more!