When the very young Michael James watched The New Yankee Workshop on TV, he didn’t particularly see woodcrafting as his dream job. “But it’s always been something that fascinates me, that I believe I could give a try.”
When the Jameses needed an extra bed, he finally extended his woodworking lineup from photo frames to a Murphy bed. The longtime photographer had many commissions away from home, and, when he set up a woodcraft studio at home after a few projects, James’s heart was filled with joy. “I love how woodcraft gives me the time to physically be with my family.”
Unlike wood amateurs like me, who cluelessly thought all wood smells like what the fragrance stores sell as products, James knows every wood has its temper.
“I like how the materials speak for themselves. For designs, I’d usually work with the natural patterns and curves on the wood. Most of the time, woodcraft is just letting wood be wood.
“Also, did you know that fresh Manitoba maple smells like horse barn?”
Most of the woodworking projects on the MJ Woodcraft website were first designed for his family’s household, including the dartboard he made inside a cabinet. When asked about the handmade wood pens that take over more than half of his catalogue for woodturning items, James paused, then laughed, saying it was a very unexpected outcome.
“First I wanted to make myself a razor,” recalls James. “So I took a pen-turning class, because razor making and pen making share a similar skill set. And when I started, I looked at all the styles of handmade pens and thought to myself, this is way cooler than I thought it would be. Now I have a whole lineup of pens in stock.”
If you have a piece of wood with great memories, like the elm branch his client brought in after a storm, James would be more than glad to customize it into a functional item.
Shop small turned items and custom furniture at MJ Woodcraft.
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