We’ve had a very mild winter here in New Jersey, but on the day I met Tyler Lucas, the high was expected to be in the teens. We met in his recently remodeled workshop, in the garage at his house in Paramus, NJ. Needless to say, it was a chilly morning, but I was warmed by his determination to make a living from the thing that he loved: woodworking. I was introduced to Tyler from Carrie Sheehan, the soap maker I photographed late last year, who had met Tyler at a craft show.
Tyler started woodworking in middle school. He took a Wood Shop class and was hooked. He really loved working with his hands. Through high school, he took more Wood Shop classes and took it very seriously. He put in a lot of effort with his projects and it showed. Tyler still consults his high school shop teacher for advice today; he graduated seven years ago.
After graduation, Tyler put aside wood working for a while because he didn't have access to any equipment. In 2014, his mom's cousin called from Warwick, NY. The cousin had a woodshop with antique equipment and was wondering if Tyler wanted to go up there and use his equipment. After many months of commuting, this gave Tyler the start to build his own shop at home in June of 2014. He bought a table saw and a lathe.
In 2015, he started getting more serious about the woodworking business and participated in a couple of shows. He bought more wood working equipment with the money he made at the shows. Things started to pick up in September of last year, when he did some higher end shows at the Jersey Shore, in Warwick, NY, and in Bergen County and made considerably more money per show than his earlier efforts. This led to him expanding his shop and remodeling over this past winter.
While Tyler is going to college to get a degree in Networking and Communications Management from DeVry and is working part time, he hopes to make a living from his wood working. This year he is going to focus on a couple of shows: Art Rider, with shows in Morristown, NJ and Rhinebeck and Tarrytown, NY, and Rose Squared, which is held in Montclair, NJ four times per year.
While at Tyler’s shop, I photographed him creating a few End Grain cutting boards. I wasn’t familiar with what this specific type of cutting board was, so Tyler explained that end grain fibers split apart when stressed, so there is lower impact on knives. They tend to be marketed toward higher end clients who are concerned for their knives, but the additional price of the board also carries with it the benefit that the cutting boards and knives last much longer. To make the end grain cutting boards, Tyler makes strips from various types of wood and glues them together / clamps them into an initial board. He repeats this process several times with different woods and patterns. Once the glue is dry, he cuts across the various rows of wood to get a stripe with a pattern of different woods on them. Using slats cut from several different boards, he glues them together into the desired sized cutting board to create a unique pattern. This is then planed and sanded into the finished product. A trench is added using a router if desired.
Tyler’s work is genuinely unique. He makes bowls, pens, cutting boards, pepper mills, and wine bottle holders. He is in the process of creating an etsy site, and also has a website: www.tylersturnings.com. If you are in the market for a unique gift, I suggest looking at Tyler’s site or going to his booth at one of his upcoming shows. The craftsmanship is superb and you will own something unlike anything you’ve seen before. I’d like to thank Tyler for his time on a cold Saturday morning, but also wish him the best as he works to make his passion his life’s work!