Brian Anderson discovered a love of woodworking at Tumwater Middle School. And then life intervened.
He developed an interest in becoming a mechanic in high school, but quickly learned that he wouldn’t always be working on hot rods. Anderson also considered work as a diesel mechanic, but didn’t like the thought of lying flat on his back under a truck in crummy weather.
He then joined the Army, worked for the state Department of Corrections, became a contractor and returned to woodworking as a hobby in 1996.
After a previous construction business was slowed by the recession, Anderson, 49, finally decided to pursue woodworking as a one-man business from his garage in west Olympia.
Anderson is a purist when it comes to the process. He doesn’t believe in using stains, preferring instead to let the natural color of the wood shine through. He also uses traditional joinery, avoiding nails and screws. And he eschews power tools in favor of hand tools. His choice of woods? Cherry, walnut or local maple.
“Now I’m doing what I love,” he said.
The business is partly devoted to client orders and other items he makes that are later sold through his website. He works on about three spec projects a year — he’s currently building a maple hall table that he will sell for $1,500 to $2,000 — while the rest of his time is devoted to clients. In all, he works on two to three projects a month. Among his current client projects is making a bed.
His next spec project is a midcentury modern chair.
“I like to see something finished at the end of the day,” he said about his work, adding that he “can’t sit in an office.”
His return to woodworking began after he needed to make a bed for a family member.
The other thing that Anderson enjoys about woodworking is the meditative aspect of the craft. It is peaceful. And on a sunny day, the garage door is open and farm animals can be heard in the distance. As he works, a couple of peacocks wait patiently at the front door for a snack.
One challenge is that he doesn’t have the room in his garage for a finished piece, which means he moves it into the house before it is sold. Meanwhile, his wife falls in love with the finished product, which can sometimes make for a hard separation when he finally has to deliver it to the client, he said.
Owner: Brian Anderson.
Location: Home-based business in Olympia.
Years in business: 10 years, formed in 2006.
Type of business: Woodworking business that produces cabinets and furniture.
Did you know? Anderson served three years in the Army and was part of a light infantry, rapid deployment unit that was sent to Panama in the 1980s to oust Gen. Manuel Noriega.