We’re interviewing makers from all 50 states. Today we’re featuring Peter Griffin, a furniture maker from Ohio.
How did you get started woodworking? Who were your mentors?
Woodworking for me was born out of a desire to do something different. I am an accountant by profession. Although it is a profitable business, when you close a deal in accounting, there’s nothing physical you can point to and say: “here is the result of our labor.” Everything is digital. Just numbers on a computer screen. So when I wanted to expand my entrepreneurship, I looked for something that satisfied my desire to get out of an office and make something with my hands. That journey led me to woodworking.
Who were your mentors?
Had you asked me two and a half years ago what was a plane, I would have had no context outside of the ones that fly in the air. No one in my immediate or extended family worked in the trades. My father was a preacher. My granddad worked for the power company. My brothers, uncles, and cousins all have professional degrees, save my youngest brother who is a chef. YouTube was my first and greatest mentor. From there I realized I needed more in-depth teaching so I searched out books. My first was The Illustrated Professional Woodworker. When I had specific questions I’d ask one of my tax clients, Randy LaValley. He started a full-time woodworking business two years before I did. He was great. Then I would locally start reaching out to guys at the local Guild. But there’s no one I’d really call a mentor. Just more of a community.
What do you think is your best or favorite work? What kind of work do you do the most?
So… I didn’t say this before, but I was walking through a high-end furniture store and saw a live-edge dining table that costs about $12,000. It caught my eye something significant. I didn’t want to own it. I knew I could make it. That started my love affair with woodworking and ultimately tabletops. I love tables and I love cabinets. My best pieces so far is the living room set I finished last week. I do have two legendary table builds I’m working on now. They will be my greatest work. Every piece gets better.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to start woodworking or pursue it as a profession?
Listen to your heart when it comes to your identity as a woodworker. You may know right away, it may take some time to figure out, but if you want to pursue woodworking as a profession, listen to that voice that causes you to gravitate towards a style, a method, a niche. People pay for specialization. They pay for uniqueness within a pre-defined parameters of quality. Once you know who you are, don’t take every job that comes in the door. Try to focus on the jobs that make you better at becoming you and success will follow.
What’s your best hands-on tip or woodworking technique?
“Just because an edge sander doesn’t have a blade, don’t underestimate it’s ability to ruin your day.”
Is there anyone you’d like to shout-out or recommend we follow? Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be woodworking related, either.)
Right now, I’m really feeling Mark Jupiter out of Brooklyn (Dumbo). His eye for design, his flare for largish appeals to me. There’s also a designer out of Santa Fe named Sequoia P. Madan. I’ve yet to see anyone pour pewter into a live edge table as successfully as he does. This guy is somewhat of a recluse, but his work can be seen on his showroom floor at www.sequoiasantafe.com. He peddles in rustic/exotic/ wood art and does so as well as anybody in the States.
See more of Peter’s work on Instagram @pgriffinandcompany
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