Today, we had the chance to ask some questions to Chris Woodman, Crafter from Canada who made all kind of gorgeous coffee table and other furniture from recycled wooden pallets. Chris is one of our most prolific Crafter with more than 60 pallet projects published at 1001Pallets! If you think you deserve to be featured in the next interview, please, drop us an email.
Tell us a little more about you? Who are you? Where are you from?
My name is Chris Woodman, I am from Orillia ON Canada and I am 40 years old. I hold a non-woodworking management position. I have loved crafting with wood (although not formally trained) since I was 10 years old.
Why do you craft?
I started crafting with pallets after seeing a few interesting ideas on Pinterest. I then started a Google search to find more ideas and came across 1001pallets.com. I spent hours looking at all the designs and ideas. Some I copied completely, others I added a personal twist on. I also came up with some independent ideas. Many ideas came from requests from family members and gift ideas.
How did you learn to do wood crafts?
I became fascinated with building at young age when I would watch Bob Villa and “This old house” on Sundays. When I was young I would make projects out of any scrap wood I could find. I learned most of my building skills through television or trial and error.
How long have you been working with pallets?
I have been working with pallets for approximately 4 years when I found some pallets located in a local industrial area. They were set out for the trash.
Why did you choose to work with pallets instead of purchased wood?
I like pallets as they are already beat up and the rustic look is very popular at the moment. They also drastically decrease the cost of materials.
What are your can’t-live-without essentials?
Sawzall. I prefer to cut the nails of my pallets (rather than pry them) for many reasons; less breakage of the wood, meaning more wood to work with. Prying can be time consuming and tiring. I like to keep the nails in most of my work as I believe this adds to the rustic look.
Are there any brands that are your favorites?
Ryobi. I have been using these products for years. They are very durable, powerful and affordable.
How would you describe your crafting style?
I would say that I am mainly a rustic builder. Rustic is very popular look, it is easily forgivable (doesn’t need to be perfect) and can give some very unique looks.
Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
All of the artists on 1001pallets are very creative. I don’t really have a favorite in mind as I am inspired by many projects on the website.
Where do you do your wood crafts? How would you describe your workspace?
I do my wood crafts in my basement and outside if a nice day. My work space is small and I prefer to work outdoors as long as the Canadian weather cooperates. My workspace is generally small, crowded and very disorganized. I am hoping one day I can build my dream workshop.
Where do you look for inspiration, or what inspires you for a new woodcraft?
I get inspiration from items I see in the background on television shows and in commercials. (I sometimes stop the show to rewind to see an interesting piece I saw in the background) I like to see prints, different designs and try to incorporate them into my work.
When do you feel the most creative?
I generally get motivated on the weekends. I start projects on the weekend and it generally keeps me motivated for the rest of the week. I rush home from work to get the projects done.
We live in such a mass-produced, buy-it-now society. Why should people continue to make things by hand?
I take pride in my work. When I look at a pile of wood that is generally scrap and see what I can make out of it, I have tremendous pride. Throwing things out because they are not attractive anymore inspires me to prove them wrong. Many items that get thrown out on a daily basis can be beautiful again with a little elbow grease!!
What is your favorite medium to work in (other than pallets)?
Wood, maybe it is because of my last name “Woodman”. I like all kinds of wood. (I do bargain shop) I look for alternatives to the suggested materials to see if there is a cheaper, yet just as effective way to utilize the material in projects.
What are your tips for people who'd like to start crafting?
Use a Sawzall to cut the nails in the pallets (make sure to use a nail biter saw blade). It saves time and keeps the integrity of the wood.
What are your most important safety tips when woodworking? Have you ever had any injuries or close calls?
I have had several injuries, lost a lot of blood but nothing too serious. Suggestions are: make sure that all nails have been removed from the wood. If you cut of the nails be sure where they are before cutting. Respect the power of your tools! If they can cut a piece of wood they can cut you… take your time!
What is your guilty pleasure?
I like to drink beer. But I have learned not to build and drink beer at the same time as this can lead to accidents and many calculating errors.
What are some of your other hobbies or favorite things to do (other than crafting)?
I coach baseball for my son’s competitive baseball league. I am also on the executive committee for my local baseball association.
What are some of your best tips for breaking down, prepping, and cleaning pallets before you build with them?
I use a Sawzall to break down my skids (with a nail biter sawblade). One major thing that I do when working with pallets is that I am sure to use a clear coat waterbased varathane over all parts of my projects. I have read many stories where people get sick from creating a pallet wall or use furniture. Using this varathan ensures to keep everything sealed in the wood. It also gives a great look to your piece and help protects it as well. When prepping the boards I use an orbital sander (the best sander invented).
Have you designed any special tools or jigs for wood crafts?
No I haven’t created any jigs unless I am creating multiples such as my wine bottle bags. Then I keep all the pieces to build one fully and use that to measure my pieces. I recently bought the Kreg pocket hole system that I would recommend to everyone. I have used it on one project so far and I is easy to use, learn and a fantastic piece to add to my tools.
What are some wood working skills you really want to learn?
Cabinet making. I would really love to know more of the finer points of this as I would like to make more professional looking pieces. I wouldn’t mind learning welding and metal art projects as I would love to incorporate that into my pieces.
What is the one project you’re the proudest of so far?
I like the entertainment units that I made. I also love the superhero Chalkboard that I most recently made for Christmas.
Editor’s Note: Thank you for your time and for sharing your story with us, and with our fellow Crafters. Your work is beautiful and inspiring to all of us, and we truly look forward to more from you in the future! Keep those gorgeous pieces coming!
Thanks Chris for this interview :)
To find more on Chris: