Rough Cut newcomer Jesse Shaw made his debut in this season’s Episode 6. His challenge? Build a contemporary take on a 1950s style TV Tray. The curved legs of the tray lent a modern touch to the design — and gave Jesse and Tommy an excuse to sharpen their bent lamination skills.
For those unfamiliar with Shaw, he’s a Brookline, MA woodworker who trained at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport Maine. His work has been featured in Home Accents Today, Miami Home & Decor, and Furniture Today and some of his pieces have been on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts & Crafts, Wharton Eshrick Museum, and Design Museum Boston & Savannah College of Art & Design permanent collection.
In addition to crafting private collection pieces and mass market designs, Shaw teaches at the Elliot Street school in Jamaica Plain. We reached out during this busy Holiday season to learn more about this up and coming woodworker.
Tell us the story of how and when you caught the woodworking bug.
I’ve always been interested in how things are constructed & built, though I didn’t start woodworking until I was 24 when I attending school at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport ME. On a tour of the school a student mentioned how handmade furniture made increases in value over time and is handed down to the next generation. That always stuck with me, and inspires me to build high quality pieces that someone would to keep in their family.
I’m inspired by the ingenuity and creativity of past furniture makers like Michael Thonet, Vladimir Kagan and John Henry Belter. They elevated the game of craftsmanship and built sophisticated low tech processes to create their iconic forms. Other influences come from artists like Theo Jansesn who combine imagination & engineering to make spectacular pieces of sculpture.
Which of your finished pieces best representative of your work & style?
Each piece has its own story to it, whether it be in the design, construction or material. [Pictured left is] a floor lamp I’m currently developing.
In the TV Tray episode, Tommy mentions that you ran the tray design through a rendering program to get a 3D look at the piece. What software did you use? What other design software do you recommend for our woodworking audience?
There is a variety of CAD software that all have pros and cons, but in the end achieve the same goal. I use Solidworks which is a powerful engineering program. It’s great for technical drawings. Rhino is a great program for creating organic forms. SketchUp is also a good program and has great tutorials.
What aspect of the TV Tray project do you feel would be most challenging to the aspiring woodworker? Any advice to those who are up for this challenge?
The most challenging part of this project is laying out the center rail. Make sure to reference from the bottom of the leg before it’s rounded over. Use a trusty combination square so you can mark the exact same measurement on both legs.
In addition to building custom pieces in your shop, you’re also teaching at the Elliot Street school in Jamaica Plain. How has the teaching of woodworking changed your practice of woodworking?
It’s very fulfilling teaching furniture-making to a class and having left with a finished piece at the end of the course. The students all have unique perspectives & questions. I’ve found I’ve developed a deeper understanding of woodworking discussing the processes of certain projects.
See more of Jesse Shaw’s work at his website.