Image of Wyatt Woodbery holding a slab of black walnut.
Woodbery in the workshop with a slab from his parents’ black walnut tree.Photo: David DelPoio
Student Life

The Zen of Woodworking
Five minutes with Wyatt Woodbery ’24.5

By Megan Talikoff ’25 / April–May 2024
April 11th, 2024

Spring semester of last year, I was taking an experimental archaeology course called Engineering and Technology in the Ancient World. I usually like to take one class per semester S/NC, to just kinda explore and try something new. My group decided to build an onager, which is like a Roman catapult. And I just fell in love with woodworking.

Killer Carving

When I was first making bowls I failed a lot. Also, it was a little scary at first ’cause when you don’t secure things properly, sometimes the material will pop off the lathe, and it’s spinning very fast, so that was kind of, like, terrifying. But that was kind of nice, because I ended up asking the people around the workshop, people who had done the wood lathe, who had more experience than me, and it was a great way to make friends. It’s a great little community. 

You have to really slow down when you do woodworking. You have to slow down and kind of really be thoughtful and intentional about what you’re doing. There aren’t many students at Brown that do woodworking, and it feels like when I’m doing it, I’m doing my own thing. Especially during the pandemic, when things were really up in the air, I feel like I just lost a really big sense of myself. Finding hobbies like woodworking that I truly enjoy, and I’m doing them for me and no one else, has kind of grounded me.

Woodworking has really helped me in terms of being okay with imperfection. I am certainly a perfectionist and I struggle with producing products that aren’t exactly how I wanted them to be. It’s been amazing to be proud of myself for achieving something without it necessarily being, you know, top-tier craftsmanship.

My mom and dad have been craving a little bit of a slower life, so they’re moving about an hour outside of Atlanta to a little town called Madison, Georgia. The area is known for black walnut trees, which are these really massive trees with a nice kind of purple hue in the wood. We had to fell one of these trees. So, currently in the back of my car, there’s just this gigantic slab of black walnut wood. I’m hoping that next semester I’ll have the time to carve out a chunk and make a really big salad bowl. I really love salad bowls and so does my mom. The joy I find in making something and being able to use it and incorporate it as a part of my life has been really cool.

What do you think?
See what other readers are saying about this article and add your voice. 
Related Issue
April–May 2024