We’re interviewing makers from all 50 states. Today we’re featuring Lauren Matthews, a custom woodworker from Maryland.
How did you get started woodworking? Who were your mentors?
I was originally in the market for a live edge entertainment console and everything I found was beautiful but very expensive. I challenged myself to make it on my own and set out to buy my first circular saw. After making a few things for myself around my home, I fell in love with the art of woodworking and made investments in more heavy machinery. I started creating and making items for others about a year later. My original mentors were woodworkers I’d find on instagram, etsy makers, and a local woodworker who made beautiful tables and who I now partner with for all of my wood.
What do you think is your best or favorite work? What kind of work do you do the most?
It’s always so hard to pick a favorite but I recently took on a project that saw me purchase my first angle grinder. I used the angle grinder to create some curves in the profile that gave the desktop so much character and flow. It challenged me on technique and helped me grow as a woodworker. Most of my work consists of custom desks and tables but I’ve also taken on different custom builds such as coffee pour overs, cutting boards, and wine racks.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to start woodworking or pursue it as a profession?
My advice would be to go for it! Don’t let your apprehension about using the tools or lack of physical space hold you back. Seek out maker spaces, live and online education, and find ways to repurpose a small space in your home to curate new ideas, draw plans, and create. There are so many woodworkers that will take their time to teach you, give you tips and tricks, and guide you. Above all else, I’d say stay safe, ease into it at your own pace, and seek out ways to practice.
What’s your best hands-on tip or woodworking technique?
It’s an old adage and really simple but measure twice, cut once! To this day, this is the best advice I’ve ever gotten and has saved me from many failed builds. As a bonus tip and some wise words someone said to me, never turn down a project. Every challenge provides you with an opportunity to grow and become better than you were the day before.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout-out or recommend we follow? Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be woodworking related, either.)
Some of my favorite artists can be found on instagram at @sidelineimages (incredible artist capturing black and poc life), @alexandracliment (one of the first female woodworkers I found when I started out who inspired me), and @woodwhisperer (tons of knowledge and fun to watch) to name a few. I’m also inspired daily by all of the black and poc woodworkers and makers who are changing the narrative and showcasing the diversity in the various fields of art and woodworking.
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