Today, we had the chance to interview Jérémy Michel, a Belgian woodworker who make beautiful and original projects out of recycled wooden pallets and reclaimed wood. 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?
I’m Jérémy Michel, a 32 year old Belgian woodworker with a passion for reclaimed wood.
Why do you craft?
It makes me proud of myself. When I craft, I know I’m making something useful and positive but the main reason is: Because I like it!
How did you learn to do wood crafts?
I learned and I’m always learning thanks to relatives, friends, YouTube video and by the famous "Trial and error". I also took some carpentry lessons.
How long have you been working with pallets?
Five years. In the beginning I started to work with pallets because my girlfriend loves the look of pallet wood. So I built various things for her and the kids, and I enjoyed it!
Why did you choose to work with pallets instead of purchased wood?
I’m not only working with pallets, I’m working with pallets and reclaimed wood for two main reasons:
- The Ecological part, we use available resources and we « upcycle » things instead of throwing it in the garbage
- The aesthetic part: A reclaimed wood had a live before I use it. You can notice it by the cracks, the holes and some defects in the wood. It gives some character to the wood.
What are your can’t-live-without essentials?
In my workshop: my hammer, my chisel, my sawzall, my planer and my orbital sander.
In my life in general: my kids.
Are there any brands that are your favorites? Why?
Dewalt: Tough, precise and efficient Tools. I’m not a gentleman with the tools I use. I need solid stuff.
How would you describe your crafting style?
My crafting style evolves with time, but I’m trying for now to go on a modern well finished style.
Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
A lot of you tubers like Jimmy Diresta, Laura Kampf, The Samurai Carpenter, Franck Howarth or the Wood Whisperer.
Where do you do your wood crafts? How would you describe your workspace?
My workshop is in my basement/garage. I’m lucky I have a 50 square meter playground. Nice to work with large pieces of furniture like a bed for instance.
Where do you look for inspiration for a new woodcraft?
Books, magazines, (not necessarily woodworking or design books), Pinterest and Etsy mainly.
When do you feel the most creative?
For the design and the ideas, the evening when the kid are in bed. For the work that requires concentration, the morning. Building things is now my job. So my week end is for my family and kids.
We live in such a mass-produced, “buy-it-now” society. Why should people continue to make things by hand?
Because when you build something, you know exactly how it’s done and what kind of materials are used. Sometimes also because it’s cheaper to do it by yourself. Like I said before, you have a certain kind of pride when you do thing by yourself instead of "simply buying it".
What is your favorite medium to work in (other than pallets)?
Wood in general and I’m really interested by metal work (I didn’t really start yet).
What are your tips for people who'd like to start crafting?
Be patient, protect yourself properly and try and try again until you have the result you want. Pallets are cheap, test different methods to dismantle, try several finishes on the wood, try different assembly methods. Don’t look only on pallet wood artists but also classic woodworkers and any kind of artist.
What are your most important safety tips when woodworking? Have you ever had any injuries or close calls?
Protect your lung with proper mask. A mask with dust filter cost more or less 30/35 euros, you cannot live without lung. Always use a push stick when you have to go next to blade. My middle finger is 3 mm shorter because of a Joiner blade. I pushed the plank with my hand, I was in a hurry, my hand slipped and my finger touched the blade. It was a small injury but I’m aware that I was lucky that time and it could be way worse.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I organize zombie parties. We watch zombie movies, play zombie video games and drink beers with friends.
What are some of your other hobbies or favorite things to do (other than crafting)?
I play drums, I used to play in several metal bands, I also have a passion for photography.
What are some of your best tips for breaking down, prepping, and cleaning pallets before you build with them? Do you have a specific tool you use, or a technique for cleaning the boards/removing nails, etc.?
For Breaking down: a Sawzall, then I remove all the nails, and then all the wood goes in the planer.
Have you designed any special tools or jigs for wood crafts?
I have a « pit » in my workbench to remove nails. The building process can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/B5FUp3Ei6Ew?t=5m41s
What are some wood working skills you really want to learn?
Japanese joinery, welding could be great too.
What is the one project you’re the proudest of so far?
As usual, the latest I made (a table, maybe soon on 1001pallets). I’m also pretty proud of the metal framed mobile pallet TV stand.
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 Jérémy for this interview :)
To find more on Jérémy: