Shop Notes

Crafting Appreciation for Moms in Woodworking

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Mother's Day is more than just another date on the calendar—it's a chance to show some love to the amazing women in your life, be it your mom, wife, sister, or anyone else who's like a mom to you.

In honor of the special day, we caught up with a few moms who are doing awesome stuff in woodworking. Check out these interviews with Shaper ambassador Leah Amick (@leahksamick), Adriana (mom to one of our employees), Naomi Thorngren (@copperminewoodworking), and Stefanie (a woodworker by trade and Shaper enthusiast).

Thanks for letting us ask a few questions about being a woodworker and a mom. First, how did you get into woodworking?

Leah: When I was getting my undergraduate degree in industrial design, I had a few projects that included woodworking, but we weren’t able to use most of the more powerful ones. fun machinery. Then once I decided to pursue a masters in furniture design at RISD, I had to build all my designs, so it was a crash course into the table saw, milling wood, glue ups, etc. I loved learning and problem solving around each project and since then I’ve just continued exploring and experimenting every chance I get.

Adriana: I’d say probably because of my mom.  She’s always been very creative… oil painting, sculpture, leather tooling, wood carving and I was always fascinated by all of it. I think I inherited her creative mind and started learning from  her and took on her hobbies.   I love working with wood and started teaching myself.

Naomi: I’m curious by nature and enjoy complex challenges that demand creative solutions. Woodworking provides both technical challenges and creative expression, which is akin to my day job as a research scientist. I got my start in woodworking after inheriting my grandfather’s tablesaw, jointer, and some other tools. Shortly after getting married, my husband and I built a dining room hutch. In retrospect, it was well-built, but the design aesthetic was a touch lacking. Over time, we’ve improved the quality of our tools, knowledge, and design sense and we’ve been building cabinets, furniture, and gifts (big and small) for the last 20 years. 

Stefanie: I’ve always loved to be creative and work with my hands. After school I first wanted to study interior design and that’s why I did an apprenticeship in cabinet making. I ended up studying industrial design and product management. But I never stopped working with wood.

Adriana utilizes her Origin frequently! She also worked on a beautiful outdoor farmhouse table with her family (including our own Shaper employee, Martín!

Good stuff! It's wonderful to see more women in woodworking. Tell us about your favorite project that you’ve worked on, and why is it your favorite?

Leah: I’m not sure I can pick a favorite, but I really enjoyed developing the original Elate table lamp. My goal was to create a lamp that was kind of a caricature of itself. I wanted a form that was playful and exaggerated, but refined and tasteful in a residential setting. It was fun to ideate around the concept, but then also to problem solve around the assembly and construction. Building the piece involved bent lamination for the neck, circle cutting on the table saw for the base, creating channels for the cord, and fabricating a custom shade.

Adriana: My favorite project… all of my projects are my favorite projects when I create them.  I immerse myself into every project with all my heart. Before my origin one project I really enjoyed working on was my outdoor farmhouse table I built with my son Martín and even my husband joined in the fun.

Naomi: I have two favorite projects. For me, form and function must go hand in hand and I’m proud of the bookcase in our home. It is an extravagant eight feet wide, by 13 feet tall with a rolling ladder all made from cherry – both beautiful and functional. The other projects I enjoy are the small gifts that bring joy to friends and family such as cutting boards, decorative Kumiko panels, keepsake boxes and such.

Stefanie: I love almost all projects I’ve worked on, as I did all of them on purpose. However, I especially loved working on our solid wood oak dining table. I designed the form, put together all pieces of wood and went from there. It was great fun starting with the first sketches, then finding the right dimensions, picking out the wood and finally sawing, grinding, finishing the surface. I wanted a table to fit many people but not be rectangular. A round table wasn’t my perfect choice either. This table really fits us and fulfills all of our needs. I’ve never regretted all the time, sweat (and blood).

Stefanie created a fun loft bed for her younger son, plus the wooden walls. Check out that awesome freeform hardwood oak dining table!

Incredible talent - thank you for sharing! Lastly, what advice would you give to other moms who might be interested in taking up woodworking?

Leah: The biggest challenge I’ve had since becoming a mom is figuring out how to prioritize my time in the shop to get the most out of the hours I’m there. At the same time, I’ve had to pick and choose which projects are worth that limited time. It has been both a challenging and a clarifying process. So I guess my advice is to embrace this new perspective and use it as a catalyst, something I’m still learning to do myself.

Adriana: Advice to other moms… I’m the type of person moved by creativity.. if you’re the type who looks at something and say: “Oh I can do that”. Woodworking might sound intimidating but it’s not… you learn as you go and the more you do the more you learn.   The satisfaction of seeing a finished wood project that you made and say.. oh I made that!  I love this quote and agree on it 100%.

Naomi: Investing in yourself is always worth it. Explore different aspects of woodworking by scouring the internet for woodworking videos, reading widely about technique, design, and practical skills, and, if possible, consider taking a class at a local community makerspace or similar offering. Rest assured that your confidence will grow as your skills and comfort level increase. Also, I love that my daughter sees myself and other women woodworking and knows that this is within her reach too.

Stefanie: If a mom can’t do it, nobody can. 😉 Woodworking is a passion. If you are passionate about the material, just start. Be creative, try out new things. And honestly- if I am not sure how something is done, I look for a video with explanations. Sometimes things don’t work out in the first run, but that’s okay. Just try again. In the end you’ll succeed and there will be things that you will have created with your own hands. Be proud!

…and never buy cheap tools. 😉

Leah is one of our Shaper Ambassadors and a new mom. She has some of her projects available on ShaperHub!

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou

Naomi has run Coppermine Woodworking with her husband for over 20+ years!

If you’re a mom reading this, Shaper wants to let you know that we see your work and appreciate you - woodworker or not. Thank you for everything you do, and we can’t wait to meet more moms in woodworking!

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