Nick Pedulla: A Maker’s Maker

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Nick Pedulla in his Northern Beaches workshop. ‘My shop has specifically been designed to look inviting to clients. The neatness is a good representation of my work. It’s basically a showroom without having to have a showroom.’

New techniques, complex processes and fixing mistakes – they’re all part of the challenges happily embraced by Sydney furniture designer maker Nick Pedulla. Interview by Linda Nathan.

It’s hard to imagine someone who is more genetically predisposed to being a woodworker. From school days he knew it’s what he wanted to do. He looks forward to and generates his own challenges – even mistakes are a source of joy because they can lead to new and often complex processes. He’s worked like crazy to build a business that’s paying its way after six years, but really it’s all about the enjoyment he can get from it. When too many orders build up he puts taking on new work on hold, so the stress doesn’t interfere. Even his self-confessed OCD-ism works to his advantage, because he can surrender to the passion of throwing himself into the task at hand.

Who is this maker’s maker? His name is Nick Pedulla. He lives in Sydney and I recently had the pleasure of talking to him.


Sculpted cabinet in stack laminated blackwood. ‘I’m quite meticulous, but when it comes to the sculpted thing you can’t be too meticulous – you’ve just got to let the timber do its thing, and I kind of like that.’

What is it you like most about your day job?
I like that I get to create on a daily basis. The fact that I get to turn my ideas into a reality and get paid to do it still blows my mind. Choosing woodworking as a career has allowed me to push my skill level and I take it as an opportunity to really challenge myself. I love building complicated pieces, and even though I’ve learnt over the years that overcomplicating things isn’t necessarily the wisest move, continually developing skills and practising your craft allows you to get quicker at accomplishing complicated tasks. Everything I do in this business is based around things I enjoy doing. At the end of the year I write a list of what I like and what I don’t like, and then try to do more of the things I like and get rid of things that I don’t. I’m here to have fun as well as make a living.


The making of Nick Pedulla’s walnut bookcases with tapered sides was all about jigs and the accuracy of repetitive processes.

So what were the minuses of 2021, and what’s on plus list for 2022?
Towards the end of last year it was the stresses generated by covid. The building industry has been booming but now we’re seeing the ramifications of that. Stock is hard to come by. There is a massive backlog of orders, for not only timber but also hardware, and this has a serious knock-on effect as client orders can’t be completed in time.

2021 was a real learning curve in managing expectations. I spent way too much time trying to figure out a way to settle with what’s available, or sourcing alternative options. In 2022 I’m designing to suit, rather than wasting time compromising due to material and time constraints. Also in 2021, I began taking on jobs that weren’t steering my business in the direction I wanted it to go. So this year, before taking on work, I ask myself: will this get me where I want to be?


Remember the time – this is the first piece Nick built on his own, at the age of 10, under the watchful eye of his grandfather.

Who are your clients?
I have a pretty broad range of clients. From those who save for months or years for a custom piece, to those that don’t bat an eyelid at prices. Some are just happy to see the end result, and others want to be part of the process and see their piece come alive. But one thing they all seem to have in common is a respect for handmade furniture.

Clients will come to me asking for desks, record cabinets, dressers, whatever it is, and it’s my job to ensure the process is as easy as possible. I do this by sending an enquiry form to ensure we are on the same page regarding designs, expectations and pricing.


Sculpted cabinet in stack laminated blackwood. ‘I’m quite meticulous, but when it comes to the sculpted thing you can’t be too meticulous – you’ve just got to let the timber do its thing, and I kind of like that.’

Does that mean you can be selective of clients?
Yes, I speak to a lot of makers who fall into the problem of quoting and spending time on trying to get a job before they find out what the client is willing to spend. I fell into that trap in the first couple of years in my business. Unless you’re on the same page from the very beginning, don’t waste time. Once I know that, I charge an up front fee for my designs. That gets them three different designs based on their brief, as well as three alterations to one of those designs. If the client goes ahead, the design fee comes off the overall cost at the end. I’m not sure I’ve heard of many makers who can charge for their design work...

This may not work for everyone but I think it works for me because I have a solid portfolio of my work online. People can see the kind of quality they’re going to get, so there’s a level of trust right off the bat. To this day I haven’t had anyone say they didn’t like the design. When something’s free, people don’t necessarily value it. When they put money down it’s more serious and they want to be more involved in the process and they’re now invested financially.


The making of Nick Pedulla’s walnut bookcases with tapered sides was all about jigs and the accuracy of repetitive processes.

How long have you been in business? Do you make for others, or do batch work?
I’ve been in business since 2016. The work on my socials is a portion of my own design work but I also do work for other designers. Those are the easier jobs and it’s just a matter of having to build them. I don’t have to do batch work any more. I can get away with just doing one-off pieces which is what I prefer to do. As an apprentice I was on a production line and batched out hundreds of items. As important as it is for a maker to learn how to do repetitive batch work, it’s something I hope to never have to do again.


‘On my big tool wall are the tools that I have spent nearly two decades collecting, and the ones that I use to build my custom pieces with.’

I’d imagine you’re fast, how much work are you pumping out?
I’ve gotten pretty fast, but I also work a lot. For the first three years of the business I was working seven days a week, probably like 10 to 12 hour days. Now that I’m a little bit older (36) my body can’t really handle that. Working quicker comes with experience but it also comes down to the machinery I’ve got. I always say: if you can afford it, buy the best equipment you can.

How far ahead are your orders, do you have much on your books?
It’s been a very busy couple of years which is amazing, although it does get to a point where I have to stop taking enquiries. It becomes too difficult to keep up and I end up spending too much time doing admin, and not enough time building.


‘These rusty tools are the first ones I ever used as a young kid. They belonged to my dad and my grandfather and helped me start my obsession with woodworking. They’re the first thing I see when I walk into my shop and are there purely just for show. A sentimental reminder of where I started.’

Nick, in your videos and socials your workshop looks amazing – everything in drawers and in its place, so regimented and neat. How do you do it?
Well I am naturally a little bit OCD, but it was the frustration of working in other workshops where, for example, if you want to use the thicknesser, you’ve got to move everything out of the way to use it. Or there was mess everywhere, and you can’t find your tools because someone has put them where they shouldn’t be.

All those little things end up taking much more time than you realise. So everything in my workshop has a place and when I’m cleaning up it goes back where it belongs. It allows me to work faster, and it also eases that OCD in me and makes me feel more relaxed! I think your work environment plays a role in the work you produce. In a neat environment the work will end up looking relaxed, neat and well thought out.


Sideboard in Tasmanian oak with contrasting walnut detail. ‘The rounded face of the inlay means 45° angles had to be cut on each side of each join to carry through.

What’s your aesthetic? What’s the look you strive for? When I look at your work I think I see experimentation. You’ve got the technical stuff down.
I feel like a lot of other makers have a particular style and I feel I lean towards a bit of a retro, mid-century modern style, but I’m not aiming for anything in particular. I’m just looking for something that looks cool to me and I’m excited to build it for the client. To be honest I don’t want to have, or get pigeonholed, into a particular style because I know I’ll get bored and want to break free and do something completely different.

Essentially my main objective when designing is to create a piece that’s exciting for both me and my client, from a visual side of things as well as a technical side.

Where did all the woodworking start?
I was introduced to it by my grandfather when I was about eight years old. Back in Italy he started his own furniture making business, and after migrating to Australia he started up a construction company. Once he retired he started building furniture out of his garage – he sort of went back to his original passion. He did a lot of carcase and veneer work, building anything that anyone in the family wanted. A while after that I started making out of my parents’ garage – I had Triton tablesaw and a bunch of Ryobi tools, and it developed from there.


American oak record cabinet with tambour door, black stained and in natural tones.

I did woodwork at school and I always knew that furniture making was where I wanted to be, so I did the four year cabinetmaking apprenticeship through Lidcombe TAFE and have been in the trade ever since. After my apprenticeship I did time installing kitchens, and then got into solid timber work before starting my own business and haven’t looked back since. I don’t know whether it was luck that I found what I was supposed to do at an early age, or it’s just my obsessive nature to find something I like and throw myself into it. I love it and I’m very glad I was introduced to it.


Aderyn writing desk, walnut, polished brass inlay detailing

How do you cope with making mistakes?
I try to remind myself that it’s just part of the process. Before building each piece I will figure out the potential mistakes and do my best to avoid them, but when a mistake does happen I take it onboard as a learning curve. I actually enjoy the mental challenge of trying to figure out ways to fix problems.

How much time do you spend each week on planning and admin?
I actually don’t mind the planning side of things. It gets me excited about the build coming up so I tend to do this during my downtime, before I go to sleep or while I’m getting ready for work in the morning. But if it’s a complicated build I will sit down and write out the process. Admin is another story. I don’t think I’ve ever met a maker who enjoys admin, but it obviously needs to be done, so I schedule every Tuesday as an admin day.


Record cabinet in walnut with brass mesh and custom brass handles. Attention to grain flow is how to ‘let the material do the talking’.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still doing the same thing, possibly in a new workshop. I’ve got the dream workshop but I’m already thinking of the new one. Building more intricate pieces and continuing to improve my skills.

What about employing people? Will you? ...or are you too much of a control freak?
Well maybe for admin, or a helping hand at times but I used to manage a team of four so I understand the ups and downs of having employees. The thought of teaching someone the skills I learnt from my grandfather is important to me, which is actually why I make videos of my work. The fact that people from all around the world can see my processes is amazing to me, and if they can learn a thing or two then I feel like I’m ticking that box. But at this point in time I’m still somewhat hesitant. That might change in the future though.


Nick Pedulla on the cover of Wood Review magazine, issue 115, June 2022

And it’s so good being in the workshop on your own isn’t it?!
It is, it is! Although sometimes when I’m sanding I can’t help but think I’m the most expensive sander in Sydney!

Photos: Nick Pedulla

Learn more about Nick Pedulla at and Instagram @pedullastudio




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