Leo Winstanley founded Hand-i-Craft, based in Formby, after losing the ability to use his dominant hand and arm after a car accident. Now, it is a successful woodworking shop, stocking handmade items, finishes and accessories.
His YouTube channel has more than 12,000 subscribers, and he was invited to apply for the new season of Channel 4’s Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker. It was filmed in the summer, and is airing on TV and streaming platforms now. Leo heaped praise on the producers, saying he ‘loved every minute’ of the ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’.
Hosted by Mel Giedroyc, talented craftspeople compete to be crowned Britain’s best woodworker. The judges are entrepreneur and woodworking expert Sophie Sellu and design academic Tom Dyckhoff.
We met with Leo, who prefers to work with reclaimed materials and has created his own conditioning wax for wood, at his workshop in Formby to hear his inspiring story and pick up some woodworking tips. Watch the video at the top of this page for our full feature.
Leo told LiverpoolWorld: “I wanted to do something to help with the physical recovery, and I like the problem-solving idea of learning to use a new skill and to learn to use my non-dominant hand.
“So, I started with woodworking in my leaky garage. I started making little things like tea-light holders, chopping boards and stuff. It kind of grew, and the hobby then became a bit of a small business later on.”
“I am self-taught. I was learning of things like YouTube, vlogs and blogs, trying to absorb it all in. I was watching able-bodied makers and then looking at how I could adapt that to my own needs.
"There can be a light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn't mean when you face a life-changing event that that's the end of things, but it might mean it's a change of direction."