Congratulations to Sarah Williams & Oliver Rugger

Macneil Metalcraft congratulates Sarah Williams and Oliver Rugger from the London College of Fashion on receiving 'best fashion artefact - catwalk' awards at the London College of Fashion MA shows in February 2010 and 2011.


Sarah was also awarded a 1st class Masters with distinction by The London College of Fashion. Her stunning and original hand made bag and luggage designs incorporate brass trims made by Macneil Metalcraft and are available direct from Sarah at  


About Joe Macneil


Welcome to Macneil Metalcraft. I'm Joe Macneil and I design and make bespoke items in metal using a variety of traditional and modern metal working techniques and tools. Macneil Metalcraft is situated near Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire, U.K.

I am a qualified automotive engineer with a background in professional motor sport fabrication and hold an open BSc from The Open University with distinction passes in engineering problem solving and design for a sustainable future.

My main interests are developing metal shaping techniques and providing critical thinking and assistance with design projects for Macneil Metalcraft's private, commercial and design college customers.

My secondary interests are blues harmonica, trials motorcycles, low energy architecture and staying abreast of industrial and product design trends, techniques and materials particularly with regard to sustainability.




CAD design

  • 0.7mm Pentel P207 (my favourite design tool)
  • Ashlar Velum 'Cobalt' 3D modelling software

Fabrication and welding

  • Pullmax P21S for punching, cutting, forming and planishing of sheet metal.
  • 'English' wheel
  • Axminster horizontal band saw
  • Startrite 24” metal cutting band saw
  • Bench pillar drill
  • Kemppi Mastertig AC/DC programmable inverter welder
  • Kemppi 250 amp Mig welder
  • Oxy and acetylene welding set
  • CMZ 4ft box and pan brake
  • Edwards 4ft guillotine
  • Edwards 4ft slip rolls
  • Norton No5 fly press and associated tooling


  • Harrison M300 centre lathe equipped with DRO

Design wisdom 


Design should identify and satisfy a list of hierarchical needs and conditions, so right from the start it's vital to understand what's important and to whom.

I usually organise or break down any new design or problem solving opportunity into 3 steps. They can be considered as a set of design or problem solving traffic lights but I regard them as a path for managing risk and identifying optimal solutions.

• RED – Understand and explore the opportunity (and risks)

• YELLOW – Generate and score solutions (mitigate the risks)

• GREEN – Approval and realisation


Design maxims 

  • Be clear about the opportunity or need for a solution
  • What is the budget?
  • When is it needed?
  • What are the legal and safety constraints?
  • Does a proprietary solution exist already?
  • What are the material, manufacturing and logistical constraints?
  • Keep it simple and lean - dematerialise
  • Maintain flexibility to accommodate the unexpected
  • Think sustainability: reduce waste, recycle and plan for end of life or re-assignment
  • Make mistakes early and preferably on paper over a decent cup of coffee
  • Although it may be a good one - never settle for your first solution without generating more solutions.
  • “Design is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” (Thomas Edison)
  • "I keep the subject of my inquiry constantly before me, and wait till the first dawning opens gradually, by little and little, into a full clear light" (Sir Issac Newton)
  • “Why is it that people can always find the money to do the same job twice?” (unknown)
  • •And lastly, "form follows function". However, I prefer "function with form"


Joe's metalworking tips aka 'what would Joe do?'

  • Work in good illumination of the work space and also the facts!
  • Don't let the machine know you are in a hurry
  • Measure twice, measure again
  • Put the line in the correct place and then make sure you can see the line
  • Cut to the line
  • Use metal cutting compound
  • Life is too short to work with blunt or poor quality tools -"buy cheap, buy twice"
  • Don't overwork the metal - you can move a lot of metal with a well-timed hammer blow.
  • Clean or metal finish your material before starting. It is easier to work with clean metal and results in less effort to achieve a pleasing appearance once your item is made
  • Working safe is working smart - lift it right, hold it right, cool it right, debur sharp edges
  • If a task, machine or material is not working out... something is wrong, or put another way:

It never fails to amaze me how human nature has equipped us to ignore the obvious or hope for the best!

And lastly...

  • Enjoy your successes, you will have worked hard for them
  • Don't waste your time fretting over a mistake - smile, make tea, put it right and move on
  • Failure is the path of least PERSISTENCE