When I walk through the shop, there’s always something to see. Half of the time, I’m trying to find someone that I need to talk to that always seems to be on the opposite side of the shop that I’m looking in. I don’t mind this though because I get to see what the other craftsmen are up to. I’ll typically get a “Todd-man!” or a “can you help me move this real quick” from Festus, a salute from Sergio on the CNC machine, and an intentional nod from Greg aside from his usually nodding to his music by his work bench.
This will be the first of a series of interviews that I will have with our craftsmen. I’ll do my best to ask questions to help you understand some of the interesting things that I already know about them. I’ll also ask questions to discover more about them that I don’t know. I’m excited to give you a look into the minds of these artistic men and women within these Interviews with a Craftsman.
Craftsman: Greg Smith
Interviewer: Todd Breeden (Marketing Coordinator)
What pieces do you work on at the shop?
I work on tables, chairs, Shinto pieces, and any new or custom pieces.
When did you start woodworking?
I believe it was 1992 when I applied at Hardwood Artisans. An uncle of mine told me about the job so I applied. I was lucky enough to hired on the spot. I left in 1995 to work in construction but came back in 2001.
How long does it take for someone to really build some confidence in their craft?
About 4-5 years with your skills. Machines are pretty quick to get the hang of but you don’t want to become overconfident.
What is your favorite band?
(laughs quietly) Today Is The Day. (he then shows me his forearm with the band’s name tattooed on him). I first saw them live and was hooked. Their lyrics, music, and evolving style has got me hooked.
What would you say are some characteristics of your personal pieces? How can someone tell if it’s a “Greg” piece?
Very few straight lines, it will look more organic, and will have a contrast in wood. I usually use Cherry with Maple or Maple with something else.
I’ve noticed that you are quite the coffee drinker in the shop. What is your go to coffee brand?
Chock Full O Nuts.
What was your biggest mistake in shop and how did you fix it?
I was working on a piece for our founder’s friend. I pretty much screwed up the radius on the legs going down to the foot. After I realized I made a mistake, I offered to rebuild the piece off of the clock and in turn, Greg gave me the piece I had made the mistake on. After that experience, I learned to double check everything and never get too confident.
Who is your favorite woodworker?
Sam Maloof. I really like his Rocking Chairs and his absence of straight lines. It’s very organic.
If you weren’t a woodworker, what would you be?
Painter or sculptor. Maybe a stuntman (laughs).
Blade Runner. The dark and futuristic aspect is appealing to me. There’s nothing quite like it even today. I have this thing for post-apocolyptic future societies. Road Warrior and Book of Eli are some other great films that are close after Blade Runner.
A pizza with the works or a Hebrew National with Mustard & Mayo. Either one is delicious.
What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
Working on my own furniture pieces, playing PS4’s Fallout, and visiting coffee shops and enjoying my close friends company.
Favorite Piece of Hardwood Artisans Furniture?
Glasgow Chair but we no longer make them so I’d have to say that at the moment a Waterfall Demi-Lune.
What’s your favorite piece to build & why?
Shinto Stools because they are challenging. They have thru tenons which I enjoy working on.
Biggest pet peeve?
The sound of silverware on teeth. (whew—shudders and shakes head–)
(I try to stop laughing so I can ask the next question.)
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Egypt to see the Pyramids.
I think we just about got it. Thanks for your time, Greg.
Greg and his flaming work bench.
Pictured Greg’s current personal project. It’s an Asian-inspired coffee table with two end tables. The Yin-Yang is made of Walnut and Cherry while the table is Maple. He’s using copper pipes to stabilize the center piece while adding an industrial look. It’s not certain if this table will be for sale or not but if so, we will keep you posted.To view more of Greg’s work, click here