Carpenters have been producing awe-inspiring structures and pieces of furniture, along with the everyday wooden items and buildings that we take for granted, for thousands of years. It’s an incredibly rewarding profession, but it’s not without its nuances and challenges. We spoke with carpenters working on projects from whole-home renos to intricate wood sculptures about what it takes to succeed in the field, how they’ve carved out their own niche, and what doors these skills open for them. Growing up in Alabama, Sarah Thomas has been surrounded by woodworking since childhood.
From attending timber harvesting expos with her father, to spending afternoons with her grandfather milling logs at the family’s sawmill, it was clear that she had a passion for all things related to woodworking. Eventually, she began her own journey into woodworking by enrolling in classes at a local community college. There, she learned the fundamentals of laying out and cutting precise joinery on rough-hewn or crooked timbers using ancient French and Japanese center-line layout systems. This was the beginning of her love for timber framing and full scribe log-building techniques. Today, Sarah is the project manager at Offerman Woodshop in Portland, Oregon where she builds and designs custom furniture. She also creates videos and blog posts to share her knowledge of carpentry, furniture design, and construction with others. She is a huge advocate for learning through doing and encourages people to find their own path into the craft of carpentry.
Best known as Chip and Joanna Gaines’ go-to table maker on HGTV’s Fixer Upper, and star of DIY Network’s Wood Work, Clint Harp is an accomplished woodworker with a rich heritage. He is a maverick who embraces meaningful work, but he has not always been able to balance his pursuit of woodworking with the responsibilities of being a husband, father, and provider. In Handcrafted, his unvarnished memoir, he shares the stories of his journey and offers inspiration for those who want to pursue their dreams with integrity. For many, the desire to learn carpentry is rooted in childhood. But for one man, it was not until he was in his mid-twenties that he realized the fulfillment that comes with working with wood.
The son of serf-herders who struggled to put food on the table, he used woodworking as a means to survive until he was able to turn his passion into a career. Then, he began teaching and sharing his skills to help others live their dream of creating with their hands. This story is about that journey and the joy of making something beautiful from the raw materials around you. A must-read for all woodworkers and dreamers.