The Wood Whisperer started in 2006 as the first online video series about woodworking. Since then, we’ve grown into a small family-run business with several employees and a number of folks we count on to help us keep the website running and the content rolling out. Here’s our team:
This is me. I’m the guy in the videos. I love woodworking, dumb jokes, teaching people stuff, and enjoying tech in general. The Wood Whisperer serves as a place for me to combine many of my interests into one one creative outlet. My goals are simple: I either want to teach you something or make you laugh. If I can do both, I’m a happy guy.
I started woodworking in 2004 as a hobby while I worked in biotech and quickly became obsessed with the craft. In 2005 I changed careers and in 2006 I started The Wood Whisperer. I wrote a few books over the years and I also do a podcast called Wood Talk with my buddies Matt and Shannon. If you’re interested in learning more about me and my history, please check out the additional information available below the team bios.
The heart. The soul. My partner in crime. Nicole wears many hats in the TWW organization including marketing, community management, customer service, project planning, and scheduling. She’s my sounding board for new ideas and she’s often the chill pill to my anxiety. From day one she has been my biggest advocate and without her encouragement, I never would have started my own woodworking business and TWW would not exist. One of her most important roles in the business is being an understanding wife and an incredible mom. Let’s face it: running your own business is a lot of work and often requires long hours. Nicole keeps the household running smoothly while I’m building, traveling, or otherwise occupied with work stuff. She’s also my co-host on the Woodworking Morning Show which airs live every Friday. Nicole worked in software sales and training for 14 years before working for TWW full-time in 2012.
Some may know her as TWWMom, because she’s my mom. She’s supposed to be retired but instead she keeps the TWW shipping department running like a well-oiled machine. If you buy a physical item from us, you can bet my mom was the one that packed it and shipped it out. She also handles all of our Human Resources stuff. Pre-retirement, she worked in HR for the state of NJ for 35 years.
She’s a fiercely-devoted Mom/Grandmom and she knows how to get things done. I can truly say that my drive for success comes 100% from watching her navigate the world. Did I mention she makes a mean vodka rigatoni? It’s flippin’ amazing.
John is a designer and developer from Canada. He first discovered The Wood Whisperer through an episode This Week in Tech, featuring the delivery of the Gadget Station. John began learning through Marc’s videos and offered his design services as a way to give back. They began working together formally some time around 2007/08 and finally met in person at Nerdtacular in 2017.
Jon has one less letter in his name and a shorter bio too.
Todd is a man of few words. Todd is not table saw.
Brian began his career in the trades as a young boy, worked for a design remodeling company in his 20’s, and in 2010 started his own company Benham Design Concepts, specializing in designing and building art and custom furniture. Although he lives in Colorado he’s not a full-time TWW Employee. But we often use his design and modeling skills for TWW and Guild projects. If you’ve seen any of our PDF or Sketchup plans in recent years, you can bet they were made by Brian. In 2020, Brian officially became a Guild instructor.
Many people write in asking for the full story on how I got where I am today. Ask and you shall receive. Grab a cup of coffee and get ready for a long story. I started out working in biotech right out of college. Like many of you, I had a good career ahead of me…..and I hated every minute of it. I had a horrible commute, a bad relationship with my boss, and my love for science was quickly diminishing. Now on the other end of the spectrum, my woodworking hobby was getting more and more serious. I just couldn’t get enough shop time. In fact, my wife started getting quite annoyed with me because I wanted to spend all of my free time working in the garage. I loved spending time with my wife, but there was just something about being in the shop that really healed the battle wounds of the work day.
I started doing jobs here and there for friends and neighbors, which really planted the seed for my thoughts of starting my own business. After a while, we decided to move from Southern California to Arizona. Since I needed to quit my job anyway, Nicole suggested I take some time to work with David Marks (that’s a whole other story). After the short term “apprenticeship” (and I use this term loosely), we made the decision to start a new woodworking business called Marc’s Wood Creations. I had to start from scratch, but I had two things going for me: a nice big garage for a shop and my wife’s dependable salary. Between you and me, I think she liked the idea of being a sugar mama. Don’t get me wrong though, money was very tight for a while, but I managed to get by with only a few jobs here and there in the first year of business. During that time, I started to offer woodworking classes out of my shop. I also started shopping myself around as a woodworking instructor and scored a few jobs at woodworking schools around the country.
So by the end of the first year, I had a good website, lots of business cards, lettering on my truck, but ultimately not enough business to pay the bills. In order to pull my weight, I got a full-time job with an engineering company in Phoenix. I still ran the business on the side and I learned a few important lessons. First, I was reminded how much it sucks to work 9-5 pursuing someone else’s dream. I also learned that I would be miserable doing anything other than following my own ambitions. So once we got through the rough patch, I decided to re-double my efforts and go back into woodworking full-time. Just to make things a little easier, I started working for a refinishing shop in Phoenix a few days a week. Not only did this bring in steady money, it also taught me a crap ton about finishing! I had a steady flow of customers and felt pretty comfortable for the next year or so.
That brings us to November 2006, when I started The Wood Whisperer. And frankly, NOTHING has been the same since. What started as a fun little side project has taken over my life and career and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are still evolving as a business, but one thing is clear: The Wood Whisperer is our future.
So at this point I may not be the best person to give advice on how to make the jump to woodworking full-time. Clearly I am taking a different path that I originally anticipated. But if could give any advice it would be this: build up the business while you have the security of a steady paycheck. Start doing some advertising. See what kind of prices you can command for your work while it really doesn’t affect you or your family. I would also suggest not limiting yourself to just building custom furniture. Build anything and everything people are willing to pay you to build. Don’t turn down refinishing jobs. They are a great way to make a quick buck with very little material investment. Make your presence known at a local level and put a bunch of irons in the fire. If one part of the business is slow, you can always rely on the others. By the time you have more business than you can handle in your spare time, its time to crunch the numbers and see if you could survive doing the woodworking full time. You’ll also be able to see if any one of those irons in the fire is active enough to start specializing in. All I can say is that’s the system that worked for me, and consequently that’s the system I recommend to others. Your results may vary. :) In my opinion, this is the safest way to make the shift.
So it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. And you will need three other things as well: skill, luck, and a VERY supportive spouse if you have one. If your spouse doesn’t share your dream, then you are dead in the water. There will be times that you have to make sacrifices as a family, and if your spouse is not on board, this can put a lot of pressure on the marriage. Fortunately, the business was my wife’s idea and she has supported me every step of the way and continues to be an integral part of The Wood Whisperer. I hope my experience will help you in achieving your dream.