Woodworking In America: Loni LaCour

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We are interviewing producers from all 50 states. Today we introduce Loni LaCour, a Missouri designer and carpenter.

How did you start working with wood? Who were your mentors?
It is an interesting story. I never thought I would make a career or even a hobby with woodworking. My father was a carpenter and worked with wood. I remember building simple things like dollhouses or wooden hearts when I was a kid, but that was all my experience with working with wood. It was only when he passed away 5 years ago and was given what was left of his collection of instruments that I started experimenting on my own. It started with little things, like wooden signs or planters. I have since moved on to larger pieces of art or furniture. I’d say my dad was my mentor. He was great at his job and as a businessman. When I think about efficiency, design and construction, I like to imagine what advice he would give me. I use woodworking as a way to still feel connected with him.

What do you think is your best or favorite job? What kind of work do you do the most?
Sounds silly, but one of my favorite things I’ve done so far was a ladder covered in old fur strips that I didn’t need to use. It’s the easiest thing to do but I was so happy because I hate wasting any kind of material. Now the pieces I make the most are wood mosaics, I love the versatility offered by mosaics and being part of other homes with my mural art.

What advice would you give to those who want to start woodworking or take it up as a profession?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re just getting started. As a young woman in woodworking, it can get daunting – you feel like your work is constantly being compared to men’s work. I often feel so frustrated with myself, some projects take me a long time due to the mistakes I make. Makes it easier when you talk and ask other carpenters for tips and tricks. No question is too simple and Youtube tutorials are extremely helpful.

What’s your best practical advice or woodworking technique?
I like to think that my best technique is to give all the good old “LaCour project”. I never really start with a full plan, but somehow it all works. Don’t think too much about your projects, sometimes your best work comes from less planning and more work!

See more of Loni’s work on her website or on Instagram @lonilacour.

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