GTPulse: For The Love of Woodworking

Throughout isolation in 2020, I had more time than ever to set and accomplish goals. I don’t have children or a large home to maintain, and being without my second job only further opened up time in my days. I thought I would pick up sewing again, or try to learn French for the third time. Instead, I barely got anything done. Early on, I wrote here about finding ways to use productivity to fuel a better life. Exercise! Meditate! Cook more! It’s easy to say these things and to want to do them, but this last year, my ‘get up and go’ had ‘got up and gone.’ I did what I needed to do and not much more.

I think that sometimes ‘get up and go’ can fade when we get too immersed in our technology shaped lives. Seeped in a world of two-day shipping, likes, and shares, our screen filled realities have sensitized us to waiting. Instead of thinking about postal workers this past holiday season, we wrung our hands at late tracking numbers. If you look up any two-week health challenge video on Youtube the comments sections are filled with more, “does this work?” rather than, ‘this works!” Our intentions to be better are legit, but somewhere between wanting and doing, we get lost. 

Vincent Brown breaks the cycle of wanting and not doing with woodworking. As a young person living and working in Traverse City, he doesn’t let busy days keep him from doing what he loves. He first was introduced to woodworking through his dad who worked as a carpenter.

“I grew up building things and going on the job site with him, learning the ins and outs. When I was in high school I had a really good shop teacher. He was my favorite teacher, he was really cool and he taught me a lot. I just always had a really deep appreciation for it.”

The American Dream of having stability through a good job and ownership of things like a house has been elusive to millennials. But at 30 years old, Vincent has achieved it. He and his fiance have just bought a house, and both are happily working in their job fields. A woodworking shop in Vincent’s garage has a collection of tools that he’s been buying for years.

“Even when I didn’t have very many tools I would still make little things. Over the years I’ve just chipped away at buying things for the shop when I had a little extra money. I love creating things, it’s like an outlet. Especially these days when life is stressful.”

Woodworking has been an escape from stress, but also a lesson in commitment and the slow burn for Vincent. Items he makes now have vastly improved from things he used to make as a young man. Those improvements weren’t apparent then, they happened over time.

“Five or six years ago is when I really got back into woodworking. I was living with a friend and I made a Game Of Thrones coffee table where I engraved Westeros into the coffee table. That’s what got me hooked again. I said I was going to finish something, I messed up a few times, and eventually, it was done and it was like, damn. That turned out really nice. It felt so good, and I just never stopped after that. I started acquiring tools from Habitat For Humanity, anywhere I could get tools on the cheap. It’s a process, especially back then when I didn’t have any money.” 

Instead of going into the woodshop on a schedule, he goes when the moment strikes him. An idea or craving to work on a project are the only markers of time that dictate when he’s in the shop. He’s found that his love for woodworking has seeped through into other parts of his life.

“It’s about momentum. When you finish one thing you realize you can finish more things. I would say woodworking had a part in me going to home inspection school. It’s really important to keep your momentum going and working on giving yourself that confidence boost. Completing things leads to completing more things.”

As I think about going into the year with my only resolution to be less dictated by time, and more by moments, I find inspiration in Vincent’s woodworking. From practical items like a bar cabinet or pens to fun ones like war hammers, he has shown that giving time to something you love benefits every day life in so many ways.

“Writing, woodworking, whatever it is, I think people need an outlet. It’s nice just to finish something and know that you did it yourself.”

To check out some of his work, follow @vbrownwoodworking on Instagram.


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Categories: GTPulse