How Woodworking Changed my Life

Bria Snyder

How I began woodworking and how it changed my life.

Woodworking is something I picked up a few years ago, I grew up in a crafty home and I married a crafty guy. We are always learning and starting new crafty hobbies, thankfully my kids seem to have also inherited the gene. When I first came to my husband and said “I want to learn how to use a scroll saw and make these wood puzzles and teethers”, I was not met with “you are crazy” but rather “ok, lets find you a good one to invest in” and within a few days we had brought home my first woodworking love, my Porter Cable Scroll Saw. From there I opened my shop, Taylor Blakely Co. on Etsy and Instagram (which later changed to Creatively Bria and expanded) and suddenly felt like I had something for myself again, being a mom can really take away your sense of identity if you let it.

Being a female in the woodworking world is not the easiest thing. It is a primarily male dominated community who tend to not be accepting of women. In fact, I tried several times to join a scroll saw group and was denied every single time. However, in the end I realized that it does not matter. Looking around my childrens’ rooms and seeing that some of the toys they play with daily are made 100% by me brings me a sense of pride. When I am crafting and creating something in my shop, it is empowering, it is relaxing, it is satisfying, and it gives me my identity back. It is my version of a day at the hair salon.

Now that my oldest is 4 he is constantly asking for new things that any typical 4yr old wants. A few weeks ago I saw him using our giant jenga game to create a road for his cars, and thus an idea sparked in my head and my newest project came to light. I wanted to create him “road blocks”. I headed to the garage and rummaged through my stock of wood to find what I wanted. I spent several days frustratingly cutting 2” pieces using my scroll saw, if you have ever used a scroll saw then you know that cutting straight lines is not it’s forte (especially if you primarily use spiral blades like I do). After all, it’s name is “SCROLL” saw for a reason.

Not to worry though, I was not going to give up that easily. I went to my husband with my frustrations, my designs, and my ideas on what I needed to make this happen. Thankfully he is overwhelmingly supportive and did not bat an eye when I told him I needed to purchase a Mitor Saw and stand in order to create this toy for our 4yr old. I mean, I was coming to him with a $400 price tag to create a toy under $100. But, he stood behind me and helped with all of the research on the best investment once again. And for Mother’s Day I got this beautiful Ryobi Mitor Saw and Ryobi Stand.

Over the course of 2 weeks I spent time cutting 2” pieces, sanding them and testing various ways to color them. The best part about making things yourself is knowing exactly what is being used and being able to customize them 100%. For things that I make for the kids I do not do any toxins, this means no stains and no toxic paints. Typically in order to get colored wood, I will dye the wood using food grade dye and white vinegar and then I will seal it with a natural homemade coconut and olive oil sealant. This makes it completely safe for kids. And the sealant gives it a nice not overwhelming smell too.

Unfortunately, no amount of black food dye was changing the color of these pieces to what I had envisioned. The combination of black food dye and yellow wood...does not give you black wood. Fortunately though, I always have a backup plan. After finding a way to get the perfect black block I moved on to the next step. I opened up Cricut Design Space and found a road template. I isolated the portion I wanted, scaled it down to the size I needed, and set my Cricut Joy to cut 100 sets of tiny little white rectangles which would make up the lines on the road. Did I forget to mention that when my friends got wind of what I was up to, my inbox was flooded with requests. I am not mad, they make great testers for all my newest projects and products. They also tend to take my initial idea and throw a million new things to add to it. Again, I am not mad. Out of their requests came stop signs, a pond with little koi fish, trees, and so many more pieces that suddenly this road block project turned into a full on city park.

I am happy to say that once again, I was able to create something I am extremely proud of and that my kids are obsessed with. Woodworking has not only brought me a sense of my identity back, given me some much needed "me" time, and saved us money with all the unique things I am able to make our kids but it has also turned into a full online store front and brought in an additional income we are able to put away for special trips. While I do not expect everyone to run out and pick up woodworking, I hope that my story has encouraged you to jump on that “crazy” idea you have had for a while. Pick up that hobby you have been putting on the back burner. Try something new no matter what kind of looks you think you might get. Because you never know, it may change your life the way woodworking has changed mine.

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