By Natalie Mourton
Although Jason Roberts went to college for finance, he never felt like he was a desk person. In fact, he never stepped foot into the world of coats and ties after college, but decided to pursue carpentry instead. After several years building homes, however, he found he was restless, as it did not seem to be “fine” enough for him. For Jason, it is the more detailed parts of woodworking he enjoys, and so he was drawn toward creating furniture and other fine-woodworking pieces.
“I just really like making stuff. I just don’t enjoy sitting at a desk. I have a passion for wood, that’s how I got drawn into woodworking in the first place. It’s great because there are so many different types of wood that have very different properties.”
After teaching himself as much about woodworking as he felt was possible, Jason attended an affiliate program of the Thomas Chippendale School of Furniture in Eugene, Oregon in 2001. The school was named for an 18th-century English furniture maker, Thomas Chippendale, whose name became synonymous with the style of mid-18th-century fine furniture. Jason’s instructor, Nicolas Chandler, was himself a third-generation English cabinet-maker. The high-intensity, three-month program provided a certificate in woodworking for Jason, as well as the opportunity to follow his instructor to Europe to work. After graduating from the program, Jason moved to the southern region of Provence in France and worked with his instructor there building custom furniture for six months.
In addition, Jason is an alumni of the same woodworking program as Beech Tree Woodworks owner, Nic James, although they did not attend school at the same time. The Fine Woodworking Program of the College of the Redwoods is a nine month program in furniture making, located near Mendocino in Fort Bragg, CA. Jason attended the program in 2005 and met Nic in 2006 after contacting him through the program’s list of graduates in the area. Jason is originally from Chicago, but his wife, Michele, is from Bainbridge Island, and so living in Washington was a return to home for her. Jason worked for Nic for a while, and then came back to work with Beech Tree part-time in the fall of 2011.
When he’s not at Beech Tree, Jason works in his own shop at home, where he cuts and dries Western Bigleaf Maple to sell for musical instruments. The pieces are used mostly in electric guitars, but may also find their way into acoustic guitars and violins, among other instruments.
Jason enjoys the flexibility of his job because it enables him to pursue his other work and spend lots of time with his family. He also enjoys the compatibility of all of the woodworkers at Beech Tree Woodworks.
“It’s work, and it’s lots of fun. It’s great to work for a green shop because it is important to me and it just makes sense to do all you can to protect the environment. I want my daughter to be able to enjoy the outdoors when she grows up.”
Jason and his wife, Michele, have a four-year-old daughter, Caitlin.