How did they put this thing together? The mark of all DIY enthusiasts is an undying curiosity about materials, fabrication techniques, and design options. Turning an object over and over in their hands, the DIYers of the world become intimately connected with its essence, its positive and negative space, and the process that brought it into being. Some are dedicated enough to turn that passion into an occupation.
Chris, a fabricator in the Eco Relics custom shop, is a local boy that grew up in Orange Park in a family of do-it-yourselfers. “We never hired a plumber, electrician, carpenter, or the like,” Chris recalls. He can’t remember a time when he wasn’t making, fixing, tinkering, and experimenting, especially with his guitar. Now living in Macclenny, Chris didn’t even complain about the commute when I prompted him. It’s a straight shot down I-10 to Eco Relics, just off the Stockton Street exit.
With his DIY background, it wasn’t long before Chris’s interest in playing the guitar developed into a broader interest in lutherie, the craft of building and repairing stringed instruments. This pursuit led Chris into the world of traditional woodworking. For the uninitiated, traditional woodworking is synonymous with endless cabinets secreting away mass quantities of arcane tools, but Chris insists it’s all about the hand plane.
Take a second to look at your hands. Really, go on and look. These are the best tools you’ll ever have, their capabilities impossible to duplicate. Through countless hours of work, Chris has trained his hands to detect and correct the slightest deviations in his work. After a few hundred hours with the tool, Chris’s hands seemed to meld into it, conjuring shapes and details that have certainly inspired more DIY enthusiasts to wonder, how did he put this together? Chris’s answer: “Precision in all things.”
“There are a hundred ways to make the exact same thing. Do it the way that makes sense to you,” Chris advises those undertaking their next project. “And don’t overthink it!” I’m definitely going to have trouble with that one, but the point is well taken. At a certain point, and Chris acknowledges that it is a fine line indeed, it’s time to stop thinking and start doing. Otherwise, we’d all just be design-it-yourselfers.
You can always tell who is going to fit the Eco Relics culture by what they do with the scraps and leftovers after a project is finished. Like the rest of us, Chris hoards his scraps at home and at the shop. Ask him about black walnut guitar picks, knife handles, and bottle openers that emerged from the scrap pile. Another dead giveaway of an Eco Relics natural is cat ownership, and the story of Chris’s cats Ichabod and Ms. Tesla will surely melt your heart. I’ll save you the tears for now. Ask him yourself in the Eco Relics Custom Wood shop, the only working shop in town with an observation area where you can communicate with Eco Relics fabricators while they work!
Chris’s work has been flying out of the warehouse door since he started at Eco Relics, from barn doors and countertops to one-of-a-kind furniture. As word of his skill with a hand plane travels, the other fabricators in the Eco Relics woodshop have asked him to lend a hand on their projects, too. And wouldn’t you know it, Chris acquired his collection of hand planes right here at Eco Relics! Now that he’s made his hobby an occupation, Chris is restoring old hand tools for himself on the side, still trying to scratch that unscratchable DIY itch, wondering how they put that together.
You can work with Chris on your next project! Contact us here today or just stop by the warehouse and head over to the wood shop. I’d say he’s the guy with the beard, but that’s another sure sign of an Eco Relics fabricator.
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