We’re interviewing makers from all 50 states. Today we’re featuring Taryn Pratt, a full-time DBA and part-time woodworker from Arizona.
How did you get started woodworking? Who were your mentors?
While I’ve always been enamored with the smell of wood, woodworking is a very recent adventure for me. A few years ago, during our DIY kitchen remodel, we wanted to incorporate some hardwoods (maple and walnut) as accents. In an effort to save money, and because I felt daring, I did all that work myself! In doing so, I realized how much I loved working with wood. I loved being able to transform a board into something else. Once the remodel was complete, I slowly started building furniture for our house. I’m still very much a novice woodworker who learns with each new project, but my hobby has transformed into a side business.
Growing up, I watched my parents remodel our houses and work on various projects. My Dad did a lot of woodworking, and my Mom did the design work. While I never did any woodworking with my Dad, I always remember being very interested in what he was creating. I guess that curiosity paid off. Having that curiosity, combined with some good woodworking genes, I’ve been lucky enough to just start building things with what feels like no experience.
What do you think is your best or favorite work? What kind of work do you do the most?
I love the look of mid-century modern furniture and have tried to incorporate that style throughout my house. However, buying the real thing can be pricey. After coming across a photo of a sleek magazine table similar to a Jens Risom design, I decided to try making my own. In creating my version of the table, I used solid walnut. It’s by far the most complicated piece I’ve made to date, and is the first piece I built with traditional joinery and no pocket screws.
While I enjoy making furniture and larger pieces, I primarily make cutting boards and butcher blocks at this point. I tend to make custom pieces for people of varying sizes and styles.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to start woodworking or pursue it as a profession?
Go for it! Even if you start slowly and start it as a hobby. It’s an incredible feeling to take a piece of wood and convert it into something else. You don’t need to start out with all the tools either, you can start with just a couple of small tools and slowly build your workshop into a space that allows for bigger projects.
What’s your best hands-on tip or woodworking technique?
Have patience. It’s so easy to want to move faster on a project, for example if you have a deadline, or just want to finish up something like sanding, you’ll want to rush, but that can very easily lead to mistakes. Growing up, my Dad’s mantra was, “cut once, measure twice”. I always remember that and remind myself to take my time. I want my projects to be as close to perfect as possible, and at least for me that takes time and effort.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout-out or recommend we follow? Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be woodworking related, either.)
I’m constantly looking for inspiration for my woodworking projects and love checking out other peoples work on Instagram. There are so many amazing woodworkers who inspire me, it’s really hard to pick one. Chris Salomone of @foureyesfurniture does some amazing projects that I’m continuously in awe of. I’ll always go check out his stuff if I’m looking for another project to take on.
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