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Eoin Reardon blends old and new with woodworking videos

April 2nd, 2024 8:00 AM

Eoin Reardon using a traditional draw knife and shaving horse in his workshop. Some of the tools he uses are over 100 years old.

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West Cork man Eoin Reardon has brought about something of a renaissance through his hugely-popular use of social media to demonstrate traditional woodworking methods and the tools used in the craft. NIALL O'DRISCOLL finds out more.

Eoin Reardon hails from Crossbarry near Innishannon. A former commerce student in UCC, he came to fame on social media a few years ago with his informative and highly-entertaining clips on woodworking and tool restoration.

Now with millions of followers and countless likes and views of his videos coming from around the globe, it’s hard to decide should he be described as a celebrity or a craftsman first.

One thing is certain however – he has reinvigorated the use of traditional methods, materials and machinery for a whole new generation.

What’s immediately interesting about his back story is he is relatively new to the world of woodworking and restoration himself, have really only started in earnest about 18 months before posting his first video.

‘I had a few bits and pieces. I had just inherited my grandfather’s old vice and I was starting to get a workbench together. Then when lockdown came we had an abundance of time so that really made it for me,’ he explains.

‘I had no experience before that really. I had spent a good bit of time watching restoration Youtube videos but that was about it – that kind of sparked my interest. I went down the niche of woodworking then because it was just fascinating to me.’

‘If you have an obsession for something, if it really appeals to you and you just want to learn more about it and do it all the time you’ll learn faster and quicker than any school will ever teach you.’

‘I was at it nearly a year and a half before I turned the camera on myself under the recommendation of a friend. I’d been on TikTok since 2019 maybe, but I was only using it for consumption as opposed to posting. I started doing something that I suppose no one else was doing and it seemed to be an instant success, which was fun, because I don’t think I’d have stuck at it for long if it wasn’t going well for me.’

Eoin’s advocacy of the use of old tools and methods is very pragmatic, but not necessarily in the way you’d think.

‘I could go on a tangent saying that old tools were manufactured to a higher standard and they were designed to last a lifetime as opposed to today’s throwaway products, but I think the key selling point to me was the accessibility.


‘Woodworking seems intangible to a lot of people when they see all these big fancy joinery shops with tens of thousands of euro worth of equipment and fellas working them having studied for four years or whatever. It was almost like you’d see a woodworker and you’d think “Oh that could never be me”.

But with the traditional tools, they were used by laymen in their free time. Maybe they didn’t have enough money to buy furniture so they would have thrown together their own makeshift stuff in the shed in a few spare hours.

‘It just brings us back to a time when anyone could have turned their hand to the odd bit of woodworking with tools that don’t cost you a fortune because they are hand tools that don’t have electric motors or anything like that. I have hand planes that I use on a daily basis that are 120 years old and they are working as well as they did the day they came out of the factory.’

Making do with the basics and getting the most out of equipment extends way beyond his workshop and into how he makes his videos for the wider world.

‘They were all done on my phone, with very low production values and I put a lot of emphasis on that. I drew two million followers using a broken iPhone that was five years old with a smashed screen that had to be plugged into the wall all the time.’

He is enthusiastic about the mental health benefits of working with his hands. ‘It’s therapeutic. Humans aren’t designed to sit in front of computers all day crunching a keyboard and then spending the other few hours looking at their phone, driving to and from work. We’re living very unnatural lives so doing something with your hands really connects you to your primal self. There is something very rewarding about the activity of using a tool and then having something to show and hold when you’re done.’

The crisis with ash dieback in Ireland at the moment is something of great concern to Eoin, even if in a sense, it’s of benefit to him or anyone looking for a great material to work with.

‘At the moment we’ve got the ash dieback which is a fungal infection that’ll probably kill 95% of the ash trees in the country. That means at the minute a lot of trees are being cut down and in a way that’s good for me as it’s material that I enjoy using. Ash doesn’t last very well when it’s out in the open – give it a year out in the elements and it’s only good for firewood. It really does have to be milled up straight away and stored in a dry area where the woodworm can’t get to it. It’s a shame though. I see a lot of ash trees being cut down at the minute and they’re just being turned into firewood when it’s a brilliant material for a beginner woodworker to work with, and it’s relatively inexpensive as well.’

Finally, as this writer is a wannabe woodworker himself, Eoin had some sound advice about what tools I should have: ‘Buy the tools as you need them, in accordance to what you’re doing. Then you’ll have them forever. Don’t be buying tools until you have a purpose for them.’

Eoin Reardon is available for demonstrations and commissions – keep an eye out for him at agricultural shows and other events throughout the year.

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