Backyard Furniture Maker

James' earliest memories are of his father building race boats that would speed along the Ohio River. The wood of the hull captivated James immediately and it has been a lifelong love affair. "Wood has a warmth and beauty like no other material," he says, and the passion he puts into each chair is evident in the result.

The outdoor cedar furniture collection which is his specialty is a chair made for people. Though that design element should be obvious in every chair in existence, look at how many seem to be made without considering the human shape and position. James proudly states that these backyard or patio chairs need no cushion even though they are hardwood.

How did you get into your craft?

My earliest memories are of the wood in the hulls of the race boats my father built on the Ohio River." Thus began a lifelong passion and continual learning about woodworking. "Wood grains tell a story, and it's just a most fascinating material. When I put a chair together, I actually read the wood grain. Each chair is artistically put together."

To a craftsman the little things matter. "The cathedrals of the wood grain must always point up or away from the customer. When a customer sees cathedrals down or in, it sends a negative subliminal message. When cathedrals are pointed in on the arms of a chair for example, it's as uncomfortable as if a roomful of people are pointing their fingers at you."

What do you look forward to the most in your work?

"Taking a piece of wood from rough to smooth. You never know what you can do with it until you get started with it. Make chair that a customer says Wow about. Or other woodworkers, when they are impressed it's a great feeling."

What would you say to a young person who wants to do what you do?

"It's very hard work. Carpentry can be the most gratifying thing you've ever done. You make something ugly into something beautiful. You can look back at what you have done and be proud. It's the type of work that you can keep learning and getting better at. Continual learning is important in whatever you do, because if you're not doing that then you're going downhill. You can make a good living at it if you'll work hard. There is room to be creative."
Sign up for our newsletter