Four eyes furniture

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Q&A with a Furniture Designer: foureyes Furniture

ChrisDo you sometimes wish that you could reach into the TV and pluck the coffee table right out of Don Draper’s living room? And if you did, don’t you dream that it would somehow be affordable? Well, that was basically what C. Sevin Salomone, the mastermind behind the local foureyes Furniture, had in mind, too! His wood furniture designs are refreshing, yet reminiscent of all that mid-century beauty we fall all over ourselves for, and all for prices that won’t make you cry tears of unaffordability. Salomone, who actually goes by Chris (that’s the C., you see), does custom orders as well as selling a handful of designs he created from scratch.  His pre-existing pieces start around $325 for a basic (though captivating) coffee table, and top out at $2600 for a sweet bookshelf/cabinet combo.  Commissioned pieces’ pricing will vary.

We sat down with Chris and decided to pick his brain about everything under the sun, including what makes a house a home and his tips for furnishing on a budget. We love him and his quirky names of his pieces as well as his fun, stream-of-consciousness furniture descriptions that left us giggling and sometimes scratching our collective head. If you want to check out his wares, you can find him here.

 

 

 

 

Q: Where do you currently live? How did you select what area to live in?
A: I currently live in Whittier. We selected our area based off several factors.  An obvious major one is convenience, my wife works in uptown Whittier and I work in Orange County (Fullerton).  Next, we knew we were probably going to live in whatever house we bought for a good number of years, start a family there, etc… We both grew up relatively close to where we live now, and neither of us had any complaints about it.

I love Whittier.  Just like most cities in LA County, there is a lot of diversity here. Our neighborhood is very middle class, but if you were to draw a 2 mile radius around our house, you could find everything from homes costing millions of dollars in the hills, to…let’s just say…places that aren’t so nice.  I know having “not so nice” places sounds like a weird thing to be thankful for but it gives a city character.  Plus, some of the best food comes from those “not so nice places.”

 Q: Does your home’s architectural style influence your interior decor in any way? How about your neighborhood?

A: Our house and neighborhood is your typical 1950s southern California tract housing affair. For the most part, I think that type of architecture is pretty adaptable to most interior decor styles.  Ours, I would describe as “mid century modern slash whimsical.” That said, I think that architecture should definitely dictate interior decor.  In other words, I think that a mid century modern Eichler house outfitted with a bunch of really ornate Victorian furniture would look a little goofy, in a bad way. Conversely, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a house tour on a website/blog of a MCM house with all of the same MCM furniture I’ve seen in 50 other house tours.  It’s nice to see something unexpected once in a while. Who knows, maybe a Chippendale era Highboy would be just the unexpected twist I’ve been jonesing for.

Q: Do you work from home? What do you think is important in a workspace, both functionally and aesthetically?

A: Of the work I do from home, most of it is in the garage (save for 3D modeling, responding to clients, etc…).  When it comes to the garage and having a full work shop out there, space is at a premium…so the most important thing to me is organization and functionality…and aesthetics don’t really factor into the equation.  Of course, if you were to look at my workshop while I’m in the middle of two projects, for example, I’d probably look like a bit of a hypocrite, because my garage definitely looks like a tornado swept through during those times.

For an office in general though, I definitely think aesthetics are important. The bottom line is, you want to feel happy and comfortable wherever you are.  If a beautiful desk makes you a little happier when you walk into your office, or entices you to keep going for one more hour, that’s tangible.  And of course, if your office is a place where clients visit, that ramps it up to a whole new level.

Q: Who and/or what influences your design style? How would you describe your design aesthetics and values?

A: My aesthetic is definitely minimalistic and clean.  If you look at my website, you’ll see lots of angles and tapers, and no ornate moldings or embellishments.  I’m influenced by lots of things, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t influenced by other furniture I see.  I guess I like things that look simple or effortless…even though they might not actually be.

Q: How can renters, some of whom are working with a limited budget, give some life to a sometimes cookie cutter living space?

A: I think one of the most cost effective ways you can personalize a space is with artwork/photography.  One of the first things my wife and I did when we first bought our house and had a small budget, was buy a mat cutter (which is about $90…and anybody can learn to use it pretty quickly); depending on the price of the art you buy, or if you can make/print your own, price of frames and mat board, if you keep it reasonable you could make a huge difference for about $500.

Another tip I would give people is experiment with the layout of their rooms.  I know it can be tough to push a bunch of bulky furniture all over the place, but you can download free 3d modeling programs like sketchup…and with about a 2 hour learning curve be adequate enough to draw out the dimensions of their rooms and furniture and then proceed to experiment with different layout ideas without hurting their backs. I think people have a tendency to push everything to the sides/corners…and sometimes that is the best solution, either way, sketchup is a quick way to find out.

Finally, play the long game.  Don’t buy things just because you think you need them, buy things that you really like. That way you don’t end up replacing them in a year or two. You might spend a little more initially, but in the long run you’ll spend less. A nicely built piece, using quality materials (even if it is used off of craigslist) will usually last longer than you will.

Q: What comes first for you, the design materials or the design concept? Why wood in particular? Any plans to design plush items like sofas in the future?

A: I actually kind of landed on wood because I perceived it to be the most realistically attainable at the time. I’ve had ideas for things that would require molds and plastic injection, but I just feel like it would cost too much to prototype or really get into at this point.

My favorite parts of any build are designing, and then of course seeing the end result. Initially I looked at actual construction as a necessary evil. But as I’ve gained more experience and confidence, I’ve found the construction part to be more enjoyable. It’s kind of weird because it’s fun, but it’s a very different type of fun from, say driving a go-kart, or hanging out with friends; you’ll never really see me come in from the garage with a big smile on my face.  But it gives you a sense of accomplishment, or satisfaction… and that’s what is fun.

As for sofas/upholstered chairs.  That is something that I definitely have plans for in the future.  I’ve built a few chairs (not on the website) so that I could start to gain the necessary skills involved…but I haven’t had the time, unfortunately, to come up with pieces to feature on my site. When I do, I will likely outsource the upholstering…so that it is of a quality equal to the woodworking.

Q: Your furniture pieces have unique names, how do you come up with them?

A: They come about a variety of ways.  I guess most often there is some kind of story behind the name….or they come from some sort of slang that I used growing up.  With custom pieces that go on to become regular pieces, I’ll let the client pick a name.

For example, last spring I built a custom credenza for a couple in Echo Park. They decided to name the piece “Richard” b/c the house next to theirs was designed by Richard Neutra.

If a client came up with something really obscene for the name, I might have an objection, but luckily, that hasn’t been a problem yet 🙂

Q: Could you describe the process of creating a piece -from conception to finish? The creative process as well as material selection and labor process, too?

A: If it’s a new piece I’m creating for the website/myself, I’ll start out with a very basic idea of what I want to build. Something like “I want to build a media console that is 30″H x 48″L x 21″D” that has a trapezoid shaped top”.  Then I’ll start drawing, I’ll come up with about 3-7 ideas/versions.  Once I’ve slept on them for a little while and really figured out which road I want to go down, I’ll start drawing the piece in more detail; making little micro adjustments until it is exactly how I want it aesthetically.

Next I’ll make a full 3D model with all of the joinery and construction methods I’m planning on using. If I’m unsure about anything, I’ll usually consult with other woodworkers to get their insight/experience, to make sure I’m not overlooking something, or overly complicating something.

For selecting the species of wood, I’ll usually decide based off of where the piece will reside, and what would physically work best.  For my own items, I go with cherry and walnut most often because I like the way they look (and walnut, in my opinion, photographs nicely).

Next, I’ll go to the lumberyard and pick through pieces to find those that I think will work best aesthetically and physically for my project…then without getting into too much detail, I’ll begin the build. The build order can vary, but usually goes like this:

-Mill all the wood (that means making all of the lumber flat, evenly thick and with parallel faces and 90 degree corners.

– Rough out all of the components of the piece

– Cut all joinery (and pre-sand if possible)

– Glue up all pieces

– Final sanding

– Finishing

Now, I know a lot of people think building furniture is a two step process that involves 1. go to home depot, and 2. nail together a bunch of pieces of wood…but I’ll assure you it is much more involved and laborious than that.  I will also mention, that it in each of the six steps I mentioned above are many little steps. It’s definitely a time consuming and complicated process…and there are lots of things that have to be considered/addressed when building any piece. I just don’t want to get super technical here.

Q: What makes you and your work different from other furniture makers?

A: One way I think that I’m probably different from some makers is that I have the luxury of having foureyes be a second job (as in not my sole source of income).  In fact, I’ve only ever once had more than 2 projects going on simultaneously. For that reason, I think I converse/interact with my client’s more thoroughly than other maker’s might have the time, or desire, to.Were foureyes my sole source of income I’d probably have to hustle more, I’d probably get more annoyed when clients had unrealistic expectations, or if I perceived them to be wasting my time.

Q: Describe the commissioning process. What are the best and worst aspects about doing commissions?

A: Typically a potential client will call or email me, and I’ll usually be as involved as they are.  So, if someone just writes and says “how much will this be”, then I’ll give them a short quick answer. If someone inquires about having something custom done, and they are unsure of something, or have lots of questions…I make sure that I spend the necessary time with them to help them understand exactly what they want, what the ballpark of prices would be and so forth.

Before I make them ever commit to spending anything, I’ll send them some drawings to make sure we’re on the exact same page, and I’ll give them a price quote.  If changes are needed, or they want to see other ideas, I’ll send them other drawings and we’ll proceed down that path until they are completely satisfied and they sign off on all of the dimensions/options, etc…

Once agreed upon, I have them give a 50% deposit, and then pay the remaining balance upon completion. I think the best part is that it’s fun to work closely with a client, especially when they get to see some of their ideas become reality. The worst part is that, sometimes I can spend a couple hours working on something, and then have nothing come from it. But I’m ok with that. Perhaps someday I’ll become jaded and I won’t be, but for now it’s cool.

Q: What do you enjoy doing apart from designing and making furniture?

A: Mostly just spending time with family and friends.  I also really love playing games of the video, card, and board variety.  In terms of hobbies, I like anything creative really. I’ve always like graphic design, and lately I’ve been getting into web-design and programming.

Q: What is your favorite piece you’ve created and why?

A: That’s a tough one. I guess probably “Bad Larry,” just because I think it has a unique look.  But I’m always most excited by whatever the newest idea I’ve had is. I have a ton of ideas I’m excited to work on…but I haven’t had the extra time to work on them lately.

Q: Anything else you’d like to mention to our blog readers?

A: I think I’ve said too much already.

Sours: https://therentalgirl.com/blog/qa-furniture-designer-four-eyes-furniture/

Christopher Salomone Woodworker & Designer

Christopher Salomone designs and builds beautiful furniture with a mid-century modern spin. His YouTube channel showcases many pieces of his creations. Chris is a wonderful storyteller and shares his woodworking process in full detail from idea to final piece.
Interview by Cesar Contreras



Cesar: Pencil or pixel?

Chris: I think pencil’s probably the cooler answer. But pixel is probably the more realistic answer for me. If you just tell me right now, “You’ve got 30 minutes to go, design a piece of furniture,” I’m going to the computer first. It’s just going to be a more finished product for me and I just work quicker that way probably.

Cesar: Interesting.

Chris: Unless it’s a very rough idea. Then maybe then I go to pencil. But for the most part, I’d say pixel for me.

Cesar: Since you do woodworking, I mean I’m assuming you use a pencil quite often while you’re building things.

Chris: I use the pencil, oh yeah, okay. So yeah. I guess what I’m in the garage maybe marking things, pencil more. But when I’m actually designing things, pixel.

Cesar: For those who aren’t familiar with you, can you tell us who Chris is? What do you do and how do you do it?

Chris: I guess in my current life who I am would be a woodworker, designer with a focus on YouTube. I started a YouTube channel about six months ago. Guess it’s under my name now, Chris Solomone. Though my woodworking company was called Four Eyes. Like you know, wears glasses. I just wanted some kind of…

Cesar: Which you’re wearing right now. [Laughs]

Chris: Yes I am. All the time. Yeah I just wanted kind of like a, something that was a memorable name that, more than Chris Solomone I guess. But anyway, so yeah. My focus now is on YouTube. There’s a number of woodworkers on YouTube. And the reason that I wanted to get into it, first off I just enjoyed watching them. I felt like I got a lot from it. But I felt like I could bring something else to the table that wasn’t really there yet, and that’s more of a focus on design.

A lot of the other people that were in the space were more focused on tutorial teaching – there are some good designers on there. But for the most part it was just more nuts and bolts and I just wanted to do something that could focus on that and people could get a little bit from it in terms of learning techniques. But it was more about designing things and how I designed things, why I designed them that way and then kind of motivational to get people to want to go do it themselves I guess.

By Christopher Salomone

Cesar: Well I must say that’s definitely effective because the way I found what you do was through YouTube and I’m actually in the middle of building some little wood projects for my house.

Chris: Okay.

Cesar: And so yeah, it definitely inspired me. I just kept looking at your, I kept watching your videos. I’m like, “God, this is amazing.” It was amazing.

Chris: Thank you.

Cesar: And you’re literally around the corner, so I’m like I have to talk to this guy. You mentioned that you’re, I mean of course you’re a woodworker, but you also said that you’re a designer. Can you elaborate on that? What is it that you do?

Chris: In terms of woodworking? Just my background type thing?

Cesar: Yeah your background. I saw in one of your videos that you, for instance you have a day job. And you do something that’s maybe not completely different from woodworking, but you do something aside from woodworking.

Chris: Right, yeah so my 9 to 5 job, I work for Cal State Fullerton in marketing and I used to do graphic design. I actually still do quite a bit of graphic design. But I used to be a graphic designer for them. I definitely get to be creative in my everyday life, or in my 9 to 5 life.

Cesar: Yeah.

Chris: Not as much as I get to with Four Eyes, but I guess if I had complete freedom there I’d probably, maybe I wouldn’t have ever started Four Eyes or had gotten into woodworking. So I guess it’s a good thing in a way.

Cesar: That’s true.

Chris: But yeah, I mean my whole life I’ve always been into drawing and designing and just building things. And I mean to go really far back I guess, my mom always says when I was really little, even when I was 5, she thought that I would grow up to be a tiler laying tile. Because I don’t know, she saw me making patterns out of things and stuff.

Cesar: Nice.

Chris: I guess it’s always been a part of me.

Cesar: So you weren’t actually laying tile. [Laughs]

Chris: I was not actually. I’ve actually never laid tile, ironically. But she just thought like oh that seems like it would be something that would favor towards his aptitude.

Cesar: Maybe she thought you could work in construction or some kind of thing similar to that…

Chris: Yeah I think she saw it as maybe construction but with a, maybe something where math and art meet. Which is kind of what woodworking is and I think why it really stuck with me. Because I’ve been into drawing, into music, I’ve been into all sorts of different forms of art throughout my life. Woodworking has been the one that’s stuck the most and that I’ve enjoyed the most. And I think it is because it really is the culmination of where art and math kind of meet.

Cesar: Yeah most definitely. When was a point when you decided that you were going to start working on making these awesome pieces of furniture and getting into woodworking?

Chris: It would’ve been back in about 2008 when my wife and I bought this house, bought our first house. We were just looking and I think it was… When we started getting kinda serious about okay, these are houses we might buy, I would draw out the interiors of them. And so I found a 3D modeling program called SketchUp and just started playing with it, started doing different layouts. I was mostly using it I guess for interior design type things at that point. And then that just kind of naturally led into trying to draw furniture and coming up with ideas for furniture. Probably did that for a year, year and a half.

By Christopher Salomone

Cesar: So a year, year and a half of just modeling things.

Chris: Yeah basically just learning SketchUp and playing around with different ideas, starting to get ideas of furniture pieces that I could make. And then I guess from that, just wondering could I make this in real life. Then I found out a local community college, I just found a woodworking program that they had.

I took a years’ worth of night classes just to kind of familiarize myself with the equipment, figure out what equipment I would need if it was something that I was going to do. How to be safe around the equipment. And also because when you’re just drawing furniture, you have no idea about actual construction techniques and there’s a whole, there’s physics involved with that and how are things going to go together? How are they going to hold? How are they going to handle weight, all those sorts of things.

In that year, actually starting to figure those things out as well. I was able to design my first product and build it within that class. I did a coffee table. And it went well, it came out and it was just like, “Oh wow, I can actually do this.” From there started buying equipment, started converting the garage into a workshop and then started just making furniture for myself, for my family. From there wanting to see if I could take it bigger and deciding to start a business out of it.

So that was Four Eyes, so I did that. That would’ve been in probably 2012. So I guess for about four years I built and designed customer furniture. And I think the reason that I initially got into it was just, first off just kind of seeing if this could be a business that I could grow and could become successful. And then maybe someday take over my day job and become my sole source of income. I had this idea that would be the ultimate confirmation or the ultimate validation if somebody could find my stuff and out of everything in the whole world that they could buy, they could choose to buy my stuff because they really liked it. So I don’t know. That really, I just wanted to do, I wanted to try to try to accomplish that. I started building furniture, put myself out there.

Cesar: So this is before you had the web presence, the YouTube presence?

Chris: This is before YouTube, yeah. All I had was just a website at that time. And so what I did to kind of get myself out there was I just reached out to some design blogs after I kind of had a little line put together. And I was lucky enough to have some big ones pick up on me, like Design Milk, Apartment Therapy. And that’s really what got people to notice me and start contacting me.

Cesar: For commissioned work?

Chris: For commissioned work, yeah. And so I did that for about four years. And what happened there was I kind of hit a limit or I guess a wall for how big I could grow it while I was still working full-time. I work full-time, I’ve always worked full-time and I would build the furniture on weekends and evenings pretty much.

Cesar: It sounds really similar to what I do.

Chris: Yeah. I mean it’s what you have to do I guess. That’s where you separate yourself from somebody who’s going to make it or isn’t going to make it, is what you do in the evening and what you do on the weekend.

Cesar: Absolutely.

Chris: If all you’re doing is 9 to 5, there’s only so much you can do in that time.

Cesar: Yeah.

Chris: So I was doing that and I kind of hit the limit of, I could pretty much only produce a piece a month. I guess I was lucky in that I had a few pieces that really caught on and that people wanted. But then it got to the point where that was kind of all I was building. And it slowly became not as satisfying anymore.

Where you know, I was still always honored to have somebody want my work and I always put everything I had into it to making sure that they were happy with it and that they make them feel that they made the right decision. I felt like my skills were stagnating, I wasn’t building new things. I was just building the same things over and over and that’s what kind of led to this switch to YouTube.

It was like, “All right, I’m going to take a financial hit. But it’s going to be something that I think will be more rewarding and also have more potential upside.” If you’re building custom furniture pieces, you’re basically just going to grow linearly.

Cesar: Yeah.

Chris: It’s however many pieces, if I can produce twice as many pieces, I can make twice as much money. And obviously there are more nuances that go into it than that, because there’s economies of scale and all those sorts of things. But going to YouTube I could grow exponentially.

There’s the potential for that kind of growth because your audience grows, you’re being exposed to new people, people are going to, if you get to a certain size, people are going to start reaching out to you for different things and they want to work with you. So I just thought, yeah it’s going to be a financial hit in the beginning, but I think it’s going to be more rewarding just kind of spiritually I guess, and has the potential to be more rewarding financially and… what’s the word I’m looking for? So it has the potential to be more rewarding literally.

Christopher working in his shop

Cesar: I have to point this out because the quality of the videos that you create, I mean it’s some of the best that I have seen on YouTube.

Chris: Thank you.

Cesar: Obviously the furniture is amazing as well. I’m just looking at some pieces right now and they’re incredible, even more in person than they are on a video. Can you take us through a project from beginning to end? From the idea to the kind of things that you do to set it up, all the way through building it and recording a video of it and filming it while you’re producing it.

Now I have to ask you, when I look at some of these videos it seems like you have, I don’t know, three or four camera people at the same time right there in your converted garage. So you’ve got to tell me, man, is it all you? Or do you have some additional help? Take us through this whole thing.

Chris: It’s pretty much all me. In fact the only shot so far that I’ve used two people for was this kind of goofy little video that I just put out for Halloween where I just needed this one shot where it had a, I don’t know what it’s called, but where I guess, where switches focus on something from the foreground to the background.

I just needed one shot where I couldn’t do that on my own. So I had my wife come out there and just turn the little focus ring so that I could get the shot. But yeah it’s pretty much, you know that’s another thing. I guess another reason that I went to YouTube was the way that most, if you watch most woodworking videos, they tend to be kind of stagnant shots — kind of just waist up of the person.

Cesar: Or a GoPro.

Chris: Yeah a GoPro, and they do a lot of hyper lapse stuff which is fine. I mean it has a cool look to it, but I made a very conscious decision to not do that. So usually if I’m, all I’m doing is this one cut, and I know I have to make five of this cut, I’ll just get it from five different angles. And then when I edit it together, it looks like it’s all one cut from a bunch of different angles. But it’s actually five different times of doing it.

It’s funny because when I first started doing it, I really had no idea if it was going to come out and it took me forever to edit my first one because I took so much footage. I just took way too much.

Cesar: How much time?

Chris: Oh God, I would say just editing the first one, I probably spent 15 hours just because I had so many shots and had to organize everything, and I had never done it before so I didn’t have a system of organizing myself.

Cesar: Right.

Chris: And so obviously it’s been a learning experience. I’m only 10 videos deep at this point.

Cesar: Yeah. What about the amount of footage? How much do you have?

Chris: I mean if I had to guess in just hours, I’ll just say I probably had 250 shots for that first video.

Cesar: Wow.

Chris: And for, now for one, a big build that I do will be maybe 80 shots. I’ll probably use almost all of those shots. In that first one I was probably only using a third of the shots I took. And it was just, since I didn’t know what I was going to do, that it was kind of just capture everything, have it all and then figure it out when I sit in front of my computer.

Cesar: A lot of B roll as they call it, right?

Chris: Yeah lots of, it’s all B roll. Only B roll.

Cesar: I know you talk about the project, the bench that you created, right?

Chris: Yeah that was the first one that I did. So yeah to walk you through a project, so it’s pretty much now it’s come up with something that I need. And then I like to put a lot of that in the video as well — just kind of showing, so not just how I built it, but why I’m building this, what was the need for it, why I made certain design decisions on it, whether that has to do with the space that it’s going in, or functionally how we’re going to be using it. All those sorts of different things.

So basically yeah, designing a project. When I do that I’ll usually use SketchUp like I was saying earlier. It just depends, some of them you’ll almost nail it on the first try. It’ll be 90% there the first try. Others, like you know, the thing that we were looking at over here, so it’s just an entryway organizer.

Christopher staining one of his pieces

Cesar: Like the media console.

Chris: Yeah it’s basically an item for when you first walk into your house, where you set your keys, your backpacks, just wanting to organize that area. I had a bunch of different ideas for that. I probably came up with 10 different drastically different ideas for what that could be. And then you kind of land on one and then you refine that one.

So then maybe you come up with 10 different iterations of what that one could be until you’re finally locked in on okay yes, this is what I want to do. And not every woodworker works like that obviously. I think that’s just the way that I happen to do it. Then from there going out and actually building and filming, which was something new to have to get used to because I’m used to just building.

You kind of have to have your head simultaneously in two different spaces where you’re thinking about okay the ultimate product of this is actually the video. It’s not the piece that I’m building. Because only I’m going to see the piece or people who come to my house are going to see the piece. But thousands of people are going to see the video.

Cesar: Right.

Chris: So that’s actually the most important part of what you’re doing out there. Having to have your head in that space of, okay what shots do I need, what’s the story going to be like when it comes together. And with a lot of that you want to make sure you don’t miss it because it would be a real pain to have to go back there and get it again.

Cesar: So do you sketch a rough idea?

Chris: A storyboard?

Cesar: Yeah.

Chris: Yes. I usually have, I would say key things. And so there’ll be key things that okay I know I’m going to want to do this. Other than that, a lot of it is pretty improvised when I’m out there. Kind of like with that first video where I took 250 shots to make sure I wasn’t going to miss anything, I think I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t need to go so crazy to make sure that I get everything. But there’s a mixture of some kind of ideas of things that I know I need to get and other things that you can kind of improvise while you’re out there. And you try new things and learn from them, like oh that was a cool shot or that shot didn’t work at all. I’m not going to do that again in my next video.

Cesar: Yeah because from the looks of it, I mean it looks like everything’s really well organized and also you do mention, I think I’ve seen it on one video, where you had mentioned I forgot to do this one thing, so I’m reshooting, I’m re-recording this part so you can see what I did.

Chris: Yeah I can’t think specifically of what that might be. I mean yeah there’s definitely little things that you’re going to miss. And you know there’s just certain parts that are really challenging. For example, whenever you’re actually assembling the piece, you’re working with glue and there’s a time constraint where the glue’s drying and you’re trying go get, that’s where it would be really helpful to have a second person and maybe as it gets bigger I’ll be able to do that.

It’s definitely a trick to try to keep your head in those two spaces. Especially because you want to make sure you’re getting everything that you need, but then you can’t take your head out of the woodworking because you don’t want to mess something up or hurt yourself, or there’s all kinds of things that could go wrong there.

Cesar: Tools. What is it that you use? Some of the main tools that you use in your shop. But also kind of camera, any software that you use, you’ve already mentioned SketchUp.

Chris: Yep.

Cesar: Anything else that you use. Let’s start with the woodworking tools.

Chris: It’s basically been a shop that I’ve amassed over the course of, I guess four years or so that I was doing commissioned pieces. My kind of approach to it was always there’s certain essential tools that you — I don’t even want to say need because if woodworkers were listening to this, they would argue that. But there is kind of a stable of tools that you’re really, really, really going to want to be able to build diverse things.

My take on it was every time I did a commissioned piece, I would use some of that money to add another tool to my roster. Maybe something that wasn’t a necessity but would help you work faster or might enable you to do something that would be really difficult to do it without it. So I’ve amassed this over several years, but your basics are your table saw, your miter saws, those are the first things that everyone thinks of. And if you were going to do things with just plywood, and I get this question a lot from people on YouTube is what tools should I buy?

I always tell people look if you’re just starting out, you’re probably going to want some kind of miter saw, a router is really good because it can do so many things, a table saw and a band saw or a jigsaw. Those are probably the very, and sanders, and little handheld things that you’re going to want. If you get more into it and you’re going to want to start working with hardwoods that come rough, so now you have to dimension those things. And that’s the thing, it’s not, I think most people picture Home Depot where you go buy a 2 X 4 whatever. It’s not like that.

When you go buy wood, it comes in what’s known as board feet. So you’re basically buying the volume of wood. So it’s, one board foot would be an inch thick, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches long. I guess that would be one board foot. But then wood doesn’t come like that. So you know it might be 8 inches wide or it might be 13 inches wide, or it might be 6 inches wide, and all these different thicknesses. And when you get the wood, it’s also not perfectly flat usually. It’s rough. So now you have to start buying joiners and planers to, that’s called dimensioning the lumber, so that you can get it into kind of where people picture the starting process as this nice rectangular chunk of wood that’s nice and smooth on all its faces.

Cesar: And that’s what these last two tools do.

Chris: They flatten it and get it to the thickness that you need for the end product. Yeah those are kind of like the next machines, if you go up to that next level that you’re going to buy. And then there’s all sorts of little things and there’s a million different tools that we could talk about. But then the digital side of it, SketchUp is what I use; which it’s a free program. It used to be owned by Google. A company called Trimble bought it.

So there’s a free version of it and a professional version of it. If this is something you’re interested in, go download SketchUp right now. There’s a learning curve to it for sure. But there’s a million YouTube videos on there and you can definitely get to the point if you’re even mildly savvy technically, within two hours you’ll be able to start drawing stuff. Just to put in graphic design terms, I’d say it has, it’s definitely a shallower learning curve than Illustrator or something like that would be.

Cesar: Okay.

Chris: That’s the design side of it. That’s what I use. And then for recording, I have a DSLR. It’s just a Nikon D5200 that I bought a couple lenses for. So I pretty much use a 35mm prime and an 85 mm prime. And I almost always use the 85 mm prime. On that lens with what’s it called, the crop factor or whatever, it’s actually magnified…

Cesar: The aspect ratio?

Chris: Yeah so it’s actually, it actually behaves like if you had a full body camera that would be the equivalent of having a 120 mm. So it’s a pretty zoomed in lens which using in a small two-car garage, most people think like, “Wow that’s a very zoomed in lens to be using it.” But I like to do a lot of those detail shots.

Cesar: Yes.

Chris: That’s why I mostly use that lens. And then to edit, I use Adobe Premier.

Cesar: How does, this is an interesting question. I’m going to go back to the relation between your day job and this, this project. How does your day-to-day influence your woodworking? Or does it?

Chris: When I first started doing this, I wasn’t in my current job. I was working at a library. And it was a fine job and everything, but I don’t think it fulfilled me at all creatively. So I think because of that, I had a lot of desire to do something else.

I think a lot of that is what gave me the motivation necessary to put in the hours and go to school during my evenings, and basically take on this new thing that I knew nothing about. It’s not like I, a lot of people who woodwork, their dad was a woodworker, somebody in their family, and they grew up doing that. I didn’t grow up doing it. It was kind of a weird thing to get into.

By Christoper Salomone

Cesar: That’s also something that’s really interesting to point out. Because you decided to learn this on your own. There really wasn’t someone in the family that you would look up to.

Chris: Right yeah, there wasn’t really anything like that. I mean for me, pretty much the people that I was looking to was YouTube, honestly. That’s where I was probably doing most of my learning. And so now it’s always funny to be on the other side of that relationship, because I get so many high schoolers, and college kids that tell me, “Oh man, I want to do what you’re doing.” And so that’s kind of where I was.

Cesar: Right here, man.

Chris: [Laughs] Yeah that’s kind of where I was a few years ago. So it’s just funny to see that in 5 years you can actually make a lot of progress. And I still have lightyears to go in terms of what I want to accomplish, but it’s just funny to be where those people were now and kind of talking to the people that are where I was then.

Cesar: And what inspires you to get better?

Chris: I don’t know if there’s any single thing. I mean my wife and I were kind of talking about this yesterday. I was saying that I had a little feeling of depression. And I think that I get that whenever I don’t have something to work on. I’m lucky I guess in that I always have something to work on. But I feel if I don’t have something that I’m trying to figure out or something new that I’m trying to do, I just get a depressed feeling.

Cesar: That’s a pretty common feeling. I mean I get the same thing too when I’m not working on something. Where I feel I’ve already done that. I’m not really learning much. I want to learn something new. For some reason, I don’t know. I wouldn’t know what to call it, but I totally understand.

Chris: Yeah it’s weird because it’s definitely not a chemical imbalance thing, it’s just a…

Cesar: It’s a creative imbalance.

Chris: Right, yeah. It’s good because you know what cures it. I guess in a way that’s kind of a motivating factor is not wanting to feel like that. Always just wanting to learn something new and to try something new and to just get better.

Cesar: Any particular people that you look up to who are in the same field? Even in another field that kind of push you to get better at this?

Chris: Yeah for sure. I mean in terms of the actual furniture design, I’m very influenced by a lot of the mid-century modern stuff.

Cesar: Yes.

Chris: So I know you can’t, well yeah like that chair that’s right over there.

Cesar: Yeah.

Chris: That’s the, so that was by Eames and it’s a Herman Miller molded plywood chair. And I’ve never even tried molding plywood and that’s something that I’d like to do someday down the road. There’s a lot of different equipment that I would need to get to that point, but just looking at different pieces and just thinking like, “Wow how did they make this?” And what are all the technical things that go into it, and the artistic side of it especially when they built something like that, that would’ve been right around World War II that they were pioneering all these techniques in molding plywood.

Before that any kind of organic shape would’ve been probably carved out or maybe steam bent or something. But just that they pioneered all these new techniques to be able to make these weird shapes and then, I mean stuff like that inspires me. And then seeing other things. There’s not specific people so much I guess, but just seeing different pieces and not wanting to copy it, but wanting to say, “Okay how can I take this idea and make it my own?” Or put my own little twist on it?

Cesar: Yeah. I definitely see a lot of mid-century inspired design in your work for sure. That chair is amazing that you mentioned the console right here, everything that I’ve seen. All the things I’ve seen you build. I mean this is pretty amazing, man. Is it still Four Eyes? Is that your your business?

Chris: In terms of the way that I was running the business before, I’m pretty much not doing it anymore. I’d say I’m all in on YouTube and content creation at this point. I still get a lot of people asking me to build things. So my kind of stance on it right now is I will take on projects if they fit into the channel.

So as long as it’s not something that I already made a video on and if the client would be willing to work with my timeline. Because the way it is right now I kind of have several videos lined up and they take me a long time to produce. So if somebody were to contact me, I would be like, “I can do that, but I can’t take it on for four months.” If all those stars align then I still will take on commissioned pieces. But it’s kind of, they’re definitely fewer and further between.

Cesar: That being said how long does a video typically take you to make from beginning to end?

Chris: I would say let’s just say that I already have the piece designed. Because obviously there’s a lot of variables there. But just say I have the piece designed and so now all I have to do is build it and film it and edit it.

For a bigger piece, something like that entryway table, that’s probably going to take me to build and record I’d say about 50 hours probably, and then another maybe 6 to 8 hours to edit it all together. That’s just producing a piece. And then of course there’s all sorts of other things that go in, you’re responding to comments, and all those sorts of things that who knows how many countless hours I’ve put into that.

I would say so yeah it’s about a 50 to 60 hour process to build and produce one video – build the piece and produce the video.

Cesar: What do you see this project Four Eyes or your furniture building plus the video creating – what’s the future like, man? What do you envision?

Chris: You know what? I honestly couldn’t even say. It’s so hard to say and that was kind of my feeling going into it. The thing that I have to focus on is building the furniture and trying to make the videos as entertaining as they can be so that people like them.

I always feel like if my focus is on that, then the things that I can’t control are going to happen and when an opportunity comes my way, I’ll be ready to capitalize on that opportunity. But you can’t create luck. All you can do is be ready for the luck when it comes your way. That’s kind of the way I think about it. I mean there’s so many things that you would like to have happen, but if you focus on the things that you can control, just kind of putting yourself in that position. So if I focus on making good things, my audience is going to grow.

And if my audience grows, then new opportunities are going to come my way by just the variety of the audience that’s seeing these things. There’s going to be businesses that are going to want to work with you and who knows where it could go but I’m open to anything.

Cesar: Totally. What’s a good place for someone who wants to get started in woodworking? Now you mentioned the types of tools to start with, but where’s a good place to begin if someone wants to, I don’t know, start building some kind of furniture?

Chris: Obviously everyone’s different. But one of the first questions I ask people when they come to me with that is, “Have you tried SketchUp?” Because, especially if they’re interested in designing their own things, you can spend years there. I spent years there before I even cut a piece of wood.

Cesar: Years on…

Chris: On SketchUp.

Cesar: Just designing.

Chris: Drawing things and designing things. And I think that, that is a good place to start if they really just want to get in there. A lot of, probably 98% of woodworkers actually aren’t interested in designing their own things. I’m should that anybody listening to this podcast is probably more towards the design side. But a lot of people, they just want to see other things that people built and get plans and build those things.

If that’s what they want to do, kind of like we were saying before, you’re going to want a table saw, a miter saw, a router, those basic tools. And then just start with things that are simple. Start with learning how to build a box that has 90° corners and all these things that are kind of like the fundamentals and the building blocks of building more complex things. Those would be the things that you’d want to start with. But anybody who has aspirations to design things and to build their own things, I would say SketchUp is. It’s such a powerful tool and it’s free.

You can learn so much there before you ever spend a dollar on a single tool. And also by doing that you can hone in and like, “Okay these are the types of things I want to build. So what are the types of tools that I need to build these things?” So there could be a whole category of tools out there that you don’t even need and that you would have needlessly spent money on because you didn’t figure it out this way first.

Chistopher’s YouTube Channel

Cesar: Before we wrap it up, Chris, I want to ask you if you have one piece of parting guidance to anyone who wants to begin building furniture or anyone who wants to get into something creative, even?

Chris: To a general audience I would say just start doing it. That’s honestly the best advice and something that I wish somebody would’ve told me a long time ago. I think that in the past I planned for things too much and you want to make sure that every I is dotted and every T is crossed before you jump in. But as soon as you jump in a whole new set of issues are going to come up and if you just jump in, in 6 months from now you’re going to be so much further ahead than you would’ve been just trying to plan for things that you have no idea what they’re going to be.

That’s the best advice I could give anybody, would be start doing it. That can mean all sorts of different things. Whatever is available to you to start doing it, just take advantage of those things and you’ll get so much further than you would just thinking about it.

Cesar: On that note, it’s been an absolute pleasure, Chris. And thank you so much for being on the show. Appreciate it.

Chris: Thank you.


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