Chattanooga Woodworking Academy
Can you describe your journey with woodworking?
My journey in becoming a professional woodworker started with helping my dad. As a youngster, I enjoyed the building process and had a natural talent for it. By the time I graduated high school, I could read prints and lay out a house. In college, one of my instructors was a master furniture maker who inspired me to look at a career in professional woodworking. There was a chronic need for woodshop teachers, and if I taught shop, I would have access to tools and a steady paycheck, which would allow me to save toward having my own shop. I worked hard, and as time passed, I was able to step out on my own.
What types of products do you make?
I’ve built everything from cabinets, bookcases, windows, and doors to custom furniture. I once owned and operated a sawmill, but at this point in my career, I am concentrating on furniture.
How would you describe your style?
My style ranges from the elegant simplicity of shaker to the curves and carves of Chippendale. I can appreciate many styles, but my favorite is traditional early English and American furniture made of mahogany or walnut.
What do you love about woodworking?
I like to figure out how to put the piece together. It’s a challenge, a thinking man’s game. I love to take rough lumber and turn it into a beautiful piece. That chance to create a masterpiece only happens once in a while, but striving for it is what makes the job worth it. It’s also satisfying to place a piece of furniture in someone’s life and know they will treasure it and pass it down.
What are some of your favorite pieces to make?
I love to make beds. It’s a piece of furniture that people will use their whole lives. I also like to make doors, especially front entries. A beautiful front door welcomes you into the home and defines its look.
What advice do you have for aspiring artisans?
My advice to beginning woodworkers is to try to narrow your choice to what pleases you. Be prepared to work hard and put in long hours. Be self-disciplined, read, research, and spend time away from work improving your knowledge. If you are not all in, find something you can be all in on. Do the best work you can, and build with the best materials. Reputation has to be earned.
Do you have any memorable moments from any of your projects that you’re willing to share?
The most memorable moments are giving away my work – toy trucks for kids in the hospital and building Poe’s Tavern in Soddy-Daisy to celebrate Hamilton County’s history.