Sustainability and Values

Eric Spencley

The Artist

Hey there!  My name is Eric Spencley and I’m a self taught maker working out of my apartment garage in Columbus, Ohio.  I started Spencley Design Co near the end of 2019 where my main goal is to inspire others to start woodworking and show how you can make very high end projects with very limited tools in a small space.  There are a lot of struggles working in such a limited space.  

For one, I have no access to the breaker panel in my garage, so I’m limited to a single 15amp circuit.  That brings a lot of struggles such as only being able to run one tool at a time, and being limited to low powered machines.

Secondly, I do not have any sort of climate control which means it gets upwards of 120 degrees in the summer, and below zero in the winter!

I like to share all of the struggles I go through because I know the vast majority of people watching maker content do not have super high end shops.  It’s all about using the tools and space that you have to create awesome stuff!

Carved Console Table

Carved Console Table

Modern Coffee Table

Modern Coffee Table

Wood Lounge Chair

Wood Lounge Chair

How did you get into woodworking?

School was never really my thing. I was able to get good grades without putting in much effort, but I was never really interested in anything that I was being taught. When I got into high school, I was required to take a global language. I had little to no interest in doing that, but I found out that for some reason, woodshop counted for my global language credit, so I took the class.  There was virtually no direction given in that class, just access to the tools, so I never really had any formal training.

After making my very first cut, I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. The only problem was that at my high school, going into the trades was looked down upon as being inferior. So when someone asked me what I wanted to do in college, I lied (thinking that this was the right thing to do) and said I wanted to be an engineer because that seemed a lot more socially acceptable.

Flash forward to being in college and talking to my counselor, she asked what I wanted to major in and what I wanted my career to look like. I responded that I wanted to build, design, and improve products. She told me that isn’t a career and that I was wasting her time. So after that interaction, I buried my passion for woodworking and just powered through college. I was extremely unhappy with my first job out of school and never really felt like I was doing anything important with my life.

After moving into my apartment with my girlfriend, we searched for furniture. Not having very much money, we went to IKEA and thought everything was super ugly. I borrowed a miter saw from a family friend and decided to make my own table. Ever since making that first cut, I couldn’t stop building and that passion from high school came back 100x over. Since I have no formal training, everything I learned was from YouTube, so it was my goal to try to give back to that community as much as possible.

Many people don’t know, but this all started in the parking lot of my apartment.  If you go back and look at some of the very first videos, you can see it happening!  Luckily I never got any complaints from neighbors, but after getting snowed on while building furniture, I moved the tools into a small apartment garage with a single 110 volt outlet where I reside now.  Hopefully one of these days I’ll be able to move into a proper shop!

What inspires your creations?

I think a lot of my creations come from curiosity.  Since I have no formal training, I find that I don’t artificially limit myself with “what is right” and “what is wrong”.  If I have an idea in my head, I go for it!

With most of my furniture, I start with a specific need.  Say I need a coffee table… I’ll draw a simple cube to represent the space the piece needs to fill up… then I start drawing interesting shapes in the silhouette until I come up with a design I like.

What made you decide to add power carving to your repertoire?

The start of power carving in my content goes to my girlfriend, Miranda.  She saw Arbortech on Instagram, and was mesmerized by seeing the carving creations being shared.

We were both drawn to the organic nature of power carving and how instead of being tied to super specific dimensions, power carving is all about creativity and just going with the flow.

What is your favorite power carving tool and why?

This one is easy!  Without a doubt, the TURBOPlane is my favorite.  It’s a larger disc that for most furniture projects, it is the perfect size.  I’ve had mine for over 2 years and it still works great!

What impact has power carving had on your art/passion/livelihood?

Power carving has opened up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to my furniture designs.  Instead of being locked into a lot of straight cuts or router bit profiles, I can truly make something unique.

My power carving projects have also been some great launching points for my business and really helped my content get out to an even larger audience by differentiating my work from what a lot of others are doing.

What advice would you give to people who are thinking of getting into power carving?

If you are going to try power carving yourself I have two tips for you:

One, safety first! All the safety gear might make you look crazy, but it makes a mess so do everything you can to protect yourself from the chips that fly around while carving.

Two, don’t limit yourself! Get into the flow and just see what happens. Power carving is a little different from woodworking in that you don’t need to have precise measurements. Get creative and go with it!

Also, everything that I create may look nice on camera but let me tell you it’s definitely not perfect…

If you are someone who is super super picky, I’ll be honest, this is one of those scenarios where you will probably never get the project to meet your standards so if you give this a try, just know that this will not turn out perfect, and that’s okay. It just gives you more reason to keep practicing.

Modern Bookcase

Modern Bookcase

Modern End Table

Modern End Table

Honeycomb Bookshelves

Honeycomb Bookshelves

    

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