Stepping into Sean Archer’s Knotty Woodpecker workshop brings you to a simpler time.
There won’t be any power tools to plug in, but instead a host of hand tools the wood craftsman uses to turn pieces of wood into anything from shelves to chopsticks.
To do that, Archer, who lived in Taiwan for four years, uses Taiwanese and Japanese tools normally not found in American woodshops -- like Japanese hand planers that will cut curves and grooves into pieces, and Taiwanese-style carving chisels.
When unwrapped from their cloth, one immediately notices how different the tools look from American ones: the grip is thin metal, instead of a chunky piece of wood.
"No handle. You get a rod, they carve out the end, so it’s ready to go," Archer said. "The Taiwanese are just no-nonsense. Get it done, get it right. I feel like you see that in a lot of their work, a lot of their tools."
Archer wasn’t always into wood. Before committing to Knotty Woodpecker in earnest in December, he was an engineer.
"I feel like engineering these days is learning ways to make things," Archer said. "It’s not like it used to be, where you learn the rules and design to those rules."
Archer thought since he was good at designing in his full-time job, he would take on woodworking as a hobby.
"I started with power tools – I hated it," he said. "And then I got into hand tools and loved it."
Why did he hate power tools? They’re noisy, dusty, dangerous, and expensive.
"Hand tools are basically the opposite of all of that," Archer said. Plus, some tools like a wood hand planer kind of "sing" when you cut with them.
"You get that cool sound and it’s kind of like an instrument," he said.
Knotty Woodpecker has a host of items for sale, currently, many of which show the influence of his travels.
"I want to do more Asian design stuff," Archer said. He took lots of photos last time he visited Taiwan, for inspiration. "I just haven’t made that really happen yet. It’s probably going to be more of a furniture thing when I get into that."
As for the current items available, they are sold online and in local fairs or places like the farmers market. Archer also does custom orders.
Some of the items available include crane earrings copying a trend in Japan, a wine bottle rack, chopsticks, and coasters.
Archer said plenty more will be added, because at this point, his life is consumed by wood.
"I love it. Woodwork, I finally get to stop and look at it when it’s finished," he said. "And I still get to do the design."
You can see more of Archer’s work and virtual storefront at kwoodpecker.com.