Interviews with craftsmen are always fun and interesting as you hear about each craftsman’s unique background and passion for woodworking. Today, we are interviewing with Sergio Zepeda who currently oversees the CNC machine at our shop in Elkwood.
Interviewer: Olivia Kim (Marketing Assistant)
How did you get into wood working?
I came to work at Hardwood Artisans by Ricardo’s referral (Ricardo is one of our six partners). I started working as a filling person at first. Then advanced up to learning to do sanding, building drawers and headboards, and now operating the CNC machine.
How long have you worked for Hardwood Artisans?
It’s been 13 years. I can’t believe it. Time just flies by!
What pieces do you work on at the shop?
Currently, I am operating the CNC machine.
What exactly is a CNC machine?
CNC stands for Computer Numeric Controller. It’s basically a 3-D printer that prints AutoCAD drawings. It’s used to route wood panels, dovetails, mortise and tenon, handles, etc.
Favorite piece among Hardwood Artisans’ furniture?
I really like the Tansu style pieces. It has sophisticated design with Japanese flare to it. Many of the Tansu designs are now archived. I like the Tansu Bookcase and Dresser. I also like the Craftsman collection because of its classic design that fits well into different homes.
What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I like to go fishing. I usually go to Mountain Run Lake Park in Culpeper. I also go to the Culpeper Sport and Racquet Club to lift weights and exercise.
What about wood working that you find most attractive?
You can be as creative as you want with woodworking. There is no right or wrong design to a piece you are making. Even if a piece didn’t come out to be what you planned for, you can figure out ways to branch off from the mistake and create a totally new design that still looks great.
I, of course, can’t make mistakes on customers’ pieces but on my own works, I like to splurge to see how a piece comes out.
What’s your favorite wood and why?
My favorite is the Leopard wood because of its unique and one of a kind look. Among the woods we carry, I like Cherry, Mahogany and Curly Maple. Finished pieces looks really good in those woods. I like Mahogany because it is soft to work with.
What is your ultimate goal as a craftsman?
To become a master woodworker. I admire peer woodworker’s different skills and want to learn from each one of them. I will continue to learn and polish my woodworking skills to become a master woodworker.
Do you have a role model woodworker?
There are many people in the company that I want to learn from. They all have different strengths and skills. Mark is very good with designs. Greg is very creative. I wish I can take the time to learn all the strength points from each of them.
What is the most difficult piece you have ever built?
The piece that was showcased at last Lemonade Social. It’s a coffee table with very organic lines and twisted looking legs. I wanted to make the legs resemble the look of a tree branch or root. So I used much time cutting and carving at the Bandsaw and Edge Sander. I first got the inspiration from Greg Smith who at the time was building his own pieces this style. I immediately wanted to try making one myself, so I did. The coffee table got sold at the last year’s Lemonade Social.
What’s your favorite food?
Sushi, because I love fish. One day, I will learn to make sushi from the fish I caught myself.
Do you have a travel destination that you would absolutely want to visit one day?
(without hesitation) I want to visit Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to see Christ The Redeemer statue. I always thought it was very cool and wanted to see for myself how big it actually is.
If you didn’t become a woodworker, what would you have been?
In High school, I wanted to become a pilot or doctor. Pilot after watching the movie, Top Gun. I was intrigued at the speeds of the jets, the heights, and the importance of their positions. I also thought about becoming a doctor because of my interest in the human anatomy. I am still is fascinated with the parts of the body.
Thank you Sergio for your time! I appreciate you sharing with us your background and passion for woodworking!
No problem, any time!
Sergio’s Coffee Table in walnut showcased during 2016 Lemonade Social
Another piece for his home
Sergio’s favorite Tansu style Chest and Dresser that are now archived