Mike Nelson set up Gelt Gifts Ltd in 1995 - sourcing and screenprinting promotional products for UK businesses. Most of the jobs were bulk orders of relatively low cost items such as pens, mugs, coasters etc. In an attempt to offer something a bit different Gelt started to make wooden promotional items and these were very well received by many customers including well known organisations such as GE, Carrs Flour Mills and The Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
In 2018 Gelt purchased a laser engraving machine and soon discovered how good it was at engraving 'one-off' jobs in wood. It was this new found marking method combined with Mike's lifelong love of woodwork that got the ball rolling - resulting in a move into retail and the creation of www.hardwoodgifts.co.uk in August 2020
Mike explains... Over the last few years we have noticed an increasing demand for original gift items with individual personal messages. Also people are especially looking for really good quality gifts, things that will last for years, even generations.
I've been interested in woodwork ever since making a pepper mill at school in the 1970's - which is still cherished by my mother. 'It's the thought that counts' as they say!
Wood and woodworking have been a major part of my life ever since. During my teens my father, Dr Roger Nelson, ran a small cabinet making business called Four Gables Woodworking. He employed a wonderfully skilled craftsman called Bill McKie. I spent many hours in the workshop and listened to Dad and Bill discussing projects and I guess through a kind of 'osmosis' some things were learned and remembered.
In more recent years I have spent time with my father making Windsor chairs, which became one of his specialties. These are made in yew with elm seats. They are fun to make but are VERY time consuming and could not be produced at a commercial rate unfortunately.
My Dad has been a major hoarder of wood over many years and he has passed this trait (and much of the wood) on to me.
This is good news for Hardwood Gifts as it means we only use top quality timber for our products. We have especially good supplies of yew, walnut, ash and elm. Other timber is sourced from two excellent local suppliers, John Richardson & Son in Penrith and G&M Timber in Stainton.
We already had a well equipped workshop and with the help of a LEADER grant we have upgraded and acquired laser engraving and CNC routing equipment.
Time during the Coronavirus lockdown has been well spent fine tuning the initial product range and testing production, engraving and inlay techniques.
We have started out with a just a small selection of products, but our plan is to gradually expand the range with original, quality products, so please check the website regularly to see what's new. If you sign up to our newsletter you will be advised by email about new products. CLICK HERE
Most of the range has been designed and made by us here in Lanercost. When developing new products every detail is considered. For example on the oak boot jacks we have fitted rubber feet and a hanging loop. Both are useful additions that aren't found on other boot jacks on the market.
There are a few items, such as the Burgen & Ball garden equipment, that are bought in (we are now a stockist) and we do the engraving (using special jigs made by us). For any 'bought in' products we adhere to the same strict rule that we apply to our own products - they must be of the very best quality.
We believe that the best form of marketing is word of mouth. We want you to tell your friends how great our products are, and they tell their friends ... and so on.
Thank you for reading this (if you have made it this far!). We hope you will give us a try and order something special for someone special.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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