A Journey in the Making is a group of makers who strive to get better at their craft every single day. None of us are perfect – and we never will be – but we’re here to document our journey as we get better. Maybe we can help you guys grow a little bit, or maybe we’re just here for entertainment. Either way – our Journey is an open book!
Meet the Makers
I grew up in a 200-year old farmhouse in central New Jersey, so there were always some repairs and DIY projects to be done. Although my father doesn’t consider himself a “maker” per se, he was always able to make things work the way they needed to. This taught me a function-over-form mentality which still persists to this day.
I took this attitude with me to study Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. Although that was fun and I got a degree out of it, I learned more about making things from life in the fraternity where we were constantly building lawn displays for Homecoming, parade floats for VEISHEA, and comfortable places to relax in our rooms.
After a decade-long break to be a fighter pilot in the Navy, I got back into working with my hands and making things once I moved to Northwest Florida. Like many of us who started in woodworking within the last decade, my first real woodworking project was The Wood Whisperer’s end grain cutting board. Ever since then, it’s been a constant quest for the next bigger and more complicated project. I learn by doing, so the best way is to jump right in!
Growing up, I always enjoyed tinkering; my hobbies growing up included Legos, model trains, oil painting, gas-powered RC cars, and eventually full-size cars. My first car was bought before I could even drive – a 1995 Acura Integra. From the beginning, modifying and racing my Integra was a passion. This passion for automobiles drove me to study Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech, where I even worked on my car’s engine in my cramped 10’ x 10’ bedroom.
I completely rebuilt the engine over a couple of years and learned a ton along the way. One of the key lessons was that I enjoyed the building process far more than the final product. Between needing furniture in my first house, my “I could build that” attitude, and the ever-present copies of Fine Woodworking magazine that I lived with as a kid, I fell quite naturally into wood working.
I now reside in Raleigh, NC where I’ve converted my two-car garage into a woodshop. I dove in head first into fine woodworking and my very first piece of furniture was a bathroom vanity using entirely mortise and tenon joinery. I just assumed that’s how all furniture should be built, since that’s what I saw in FWW Magazine. I’ve become a lover of classic hand tools and traditional joinery, although I do take a hybrid approach to wood working. I have my fair share of power tools which I use to get close, but the final fit and finish is always done by hand. No matter which tools I’m using, I always love to share my woodworking Journey!
We bought our first home in 2009, and my wife and I were taken aback by the high cost and low quality of store-bought furniture and decor. After that, I caught the DIY bug big time. Since I had a lot more time than money in those days, I built a lot of things. My household projects included from simple shelves, entertainment stands, and everything in between. I recently completed the one and only deck I have ever built -and boy did I learn a lot! It’s a 16′ x 28′ cedar deck, and I couldn’t find good information on how to build from a single source. After a lot of research, I wound up using information and techniques from over 50 sources!
My parents have been entrepreneurs my entire life, and started their own business when I was 11. Because of that, it was only natural that I would start employing my talents with those same entrepreneurial ambitions. Making customized pieces for people has become a great creative outlet and stress reliever for me. I originally joined Instagram to both document my builds, and learn more about my craft from others. Since then, I’ve been absolutely blown away by the support, advice, and knowledge of the online maker community. I’m looking forward to this chance to give back and share my knowledge.
I’m a full-time product development engineer, with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. At work, I design bulk material handling equipment for grain elevators and processors. Needless to say, this product development and design background translate very well to my garage shop! Raising my young and large family is my biggest calling, but I hope that they grow up knowing that they can take on any project they want. I aim to give them the confidence to take on even the most new and challenging projects, and succeed beyond even their own expectations.
Hey guys! My name is Michael Heredia of Falling Creek Woodworks. Growing up, I was always focused on sports. Eventually I found myself playing collegiate football at Gardner-Webb University.
Nobody in my family was a woodworker or carpenter, so making things from wood definitely wasn’t in my blood. But that was then, and this is now! These days, woodworking (and a whole bunch of sawdust) is definitely in my blood. It started out as a hobby, and has now transformed into a growing business, producing furniture and functional home goods that provide families and friends a place to gather, eat, laugh, cry, and grow.
When I’m not in the wood shop, I love spending time with my wife and little dude, kind of shredding on the guitar, pretending that I’m actually good at disc golf, sipping on quality craft beers, trying to obtain Ron Swanson status by acquiring a taste for fine scotch, and spending countless hours keeping up with Georgia football, hoping and praying that we will win a National Championship at some point in my life. And, at the end of the day, my main goal in all that I do is to strive to live out the profession in John 3:30.
I’m Shelby Hahn. After failing to become a ninja or a spec ops sniper, I became a family physician. My primary job is as an associate program director in a residency program, but also get to teach and mentor future doctors while working with a local medical school. My family lives in Springfield, Missouri. We love our church and community and try to be just, love mercy, and act humbly (Micah 6:8). We’ve been a foster family for four years and have parented nine children in total, including seven 2 year olds 😳.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time working in my step dad’s wood shop, as well 6 years working for his general contracting business. During those formative years I learned how to use 2×4 stretchers and the reciprocating tenon jig. After a 10 year woodworking hiatus I started doing DIY projects at home and small gifts that I hope become family heirlooms for my family and yours. In 2017, we created 500 Turns to give back to the foster care community and help support organizations that are bridging gaps for kids in care. 100% of the profits from our sales are donated. If given the option, I would spend all of my time wood turning but usually find myself designing and making baby rattles or cutting boards with my wife and kids.
Brad Allred – Project Build Stuff
Hey, it’s Brad Allred—the man and mind behind Project Build Stuff. I was born and raised in Sacramento, CA. Growing up, I was the master tinkerer always tearing apart and rebuilding everything and anything I could get my hands on. When I wasn’t building K’nex Taj Mahals, I was normally the right-hand man to my jack-of-all-trades father in his DIY and house projects. The maker blood has been in my veins long before I even knew what a maker was.
In 2011 at the ripe old age of 20, I married my high school sweetheart Courtney and began a crazy journey that led me to today. Over the last eight years, I’ve lived in six apartments in three different cities (Sacramento, San Diego, and Indianapolis), made two major moves, and obtained three college degrees (AA, BA, MA). My desire to make never subsided through all of this, but my lack of space and tools made for a very tricky hurdle. I got in small projects that I could complete on balconies and in courtyards to keep the maker fires burning.
In 2017, I dragged my wife across the country from sunny California to snowy Indiana to pursue an awesome teaching fellowship. This move opened the door for me to finally spread my maker wings and fly. Not only did we buy a house shortly after moving which gave me my first shop space (i.e. garage), but I got the amazing opportunity to teach engineering at the high school level which gave me the ability to expand my digital fabrication skills ten-fold. Now, I spend my days shaping the future engineers of the world, and I spend my nights and weekends cranking out woodworking, CNC, and 3D printed content in the shop.
I began woodworking with my uncle in 2006, turning wine stoppers and pens for Christmas gifts on his lathe, but it took around a decade for me to return to it, coinciding with the purchase of my first home. My first projects were furniture based on Ana White’s plans, but soon after, I fell down the rabbit hole of Japanese woodworking, and have been there ever since. I am especially fond of, and aspire to become a capable craftsman in kumiko woodworking, which is the Japanese art of creating intricate patterns inside wooden lattices. I’m a voracious learner, and am always experimenting with incorporating new aesthetics into my projects where I can.
Recently, I’ve become not only a student of woodworking, but also a teacher. I teach others basic woodworking with machines at the Craft Center at the University of California, Davis. I hope to do more classes in the future, including classes on kumiko and hand tool woodworking. I also started a YouTube channel so I can teach techniques outside of the shop classroom.
Hello, I am Spencer Stevens - the creative drive behind Root & Ore Creations. I live in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD with my wife and young son, and I’ve been making things in one way or another since I was a kid. Construx and Tinker Toys were my playthings of choice, and I was always trying to figure out how things worked.
Most of my free time as a kid all the way through college was consumed with athletics. I played basketball and football, and still play hoops to this day. After college I bought my dream car, a Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo, and began modifying it. I learned a lot about how things came apart and went back together… although sometimes not until the 5th try. And that is where I really found my love for working with my hands. But over the last few years, I’ve really begun to dive into the making world with more intent.
I started Root & Ore as a way to share with others my love for making things with my hands. What started out as posting a few pictures to social media, has turned into creating custom pieces of furniture and home decor for other people to enjoy in their homes. I’ve found that my true joy comes not just from making something, but also in seeing the joy that thing brings to the people I make it for.
Making is my passion, and learning to use different materials and techniques is what drives my creativity. There is always something new to explore, new challenges to conquer, and new ways to improve my craft! I learn by doing, failing, and doing again only better. And learning is what keeps my creative juices flowing!