We’re interviewing makers from all 50 states. Today we’re featuring Katie Williams, a woodworker from South Carolina.
How did you get started woodworking? Who were your mentors?
I️ was originally interested in doing historical preservation, but felt I️ needed to invest in learning how to do the work, not just read and write about it. I️ was having difficulty finding a way into the trade as I️ had no real experience so I️ found a school that taught traditional building methods. Through the school and internships I️ found a lot of good places to work. I️ learned most of what I️ do in production woodworking through Nic Williams at Meadors Inc. My other teachers/mentors in the trade were Jordan Finch, Bruno Sutter, and David Dick.
What do you think is your best or favorite work? What kind of work do you do the most?
I’ve made a variety of things, mostly doors and windows. Joinery is a lot of fun, though I’m doing less traditional joinery in production work. I️ love the marriage of functionality with beauty in a piece that will last a lifetime. I️ think a lot of people overlook the aesthetics in something mundane like a door. But I️ love the necessary function of a door and the quiet details that beget beauty.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to start woodworking or pursue it as a profession?
My learning style is complicated so for me a woodworking program was the best route. Additionally, I️ didn’t have any contacts in the industry and felt boxed out as a woman with no experience.
There are a lot of great programs out there. But they aren’t very accessible or affordable, unfortunately. Apprenticeships are great if you can find someone willing to take you on. There’s tons of online content from actual live classes to youtube content. I wish there were more easily accessible avenues into this work. We need more enthusiastic people and more diversity in the trade and a touch of change to the whole culture. I’ve worked with a lot of people who were brought up in the craft with a lot of hostility and what sounds like hazing and I️ hope that changes.
What’s your best hands-on tip or woodworking technique?
I’m not sure I️ have any tips that haven’t been heard before. My biggest tip would be to develop a good methodology. Draw before you build. Maintain consistent layout methods. Sharpen your chisels and check for square.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout-out or recommend we follow? Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be woodworking related, either.)
So so so many but here are a few.
See more of Katie’s work on Instagram @hammerandbell.
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