Woodworking in America: Terry Streetman

Woodworking in America: Terry Streetman

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Woodworking in America: Terry Streetman

A black walnut plant propagation station

We are interviewing producers from all 50 states. Today we introduce you to Terry Streetman, a Nebraska-based carpenter focused on sustainability.

How did you start working with wood? Who were your mentors?

I started woodworking relatively recently, in early 2019, when my wife Emily and I bought our first home. I had always been interested in the trade, but until then I hadn’t had the space to open a shop. My grandfather was a skilled carpenter, putting his skills to good use to carry out projects of all kinds and sizes, from simple napkin rings, to rocking horses, to entire homes. His workshop was always filled with work in progress and a variety of journals and woodworking projects. It was his example that inspired me to try my hand at this. Unfortunately, he died in 2005 from complications of Alzheimer’s, so I never got a chance to learn directly from him. In the years leading up to the start, I had been following more and more carpenters on Instagram and learned a lot just by seeing their content. Once I had space in the garage to set up my little shop, I filled it with second-hand tools from real estate sales and jumped in.

I would probably consider my father and grandfather as my mentors in woodworking, just for the lessons they both taught me when I was young and for the example they set on how to do things right.

Woodworking in America: Terry StreetmanWhat do you think is your best or favorite job? What kind of work do you do the most?

One of my favorite things I ever built was the chicken coop we had in our backyard. It was one of the first things I built after buying our house and it challenged me to learn many new techniques. I designed, framed, finished and covered the whole thing myself, and I’m still very proud of how it turned out. My dad also helped me frame the walls so it was a great chance to bond with him and learn more about woodworking and joinery.

Most of my work at this point is made up of small home decor items. These range from charcuterie cutting boards and ornaments to plant propagation stations and wall art. During the pandemic, my wife became very interested in houseplants, so creating plant propagation stations (which can hold several tubes to propagate houseplant cuttings) became a fun way to enjoy my hobby and same time support her. They also allow for a great variety in terms of materials and design. I’d say those have been my most popular articles so far.

Woodworking in America: Terry Streetman

A piece I made for my dad in honor of his bike charity event, made from the old wooden base of my grandfather’s photo enlarger.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start woodworking or pursue it as a profession?

My advice would be to go for it. Many people – especially those like me who are interested through social media – have this fear that if they don’t have all the most expensive skills and tools, they won’t be able to produce quality work. But woodworking, like any other skill, takes time, effort and passion, and I think these things matter more than having the best tools or perfect technique. Nobody starts a master’s degree, but you will never develop the skills and knowledge you need if you never start.

Woodworking in America: Terry Streetman

An American elm table that I made for some friends with a slab of their old tree that had to go down

What’s your best practical advice or woodworking technique?

To be sure, I’m still finding my way as I develop my craft, so I don’t tend to have a lot of great tips and tricks. For those, I tend to reach out to the woodworking community on Instagram. I’ve learned a lot from people like Anne Briggs (@anneofalltrades), April Wilkerson (@wilker_dos), Ashley Harwood (@ashleyharwoodturning) and Matt Cremona (@mattcremona). There are so many great carpenters out there who have developed great resources and advice for people across the skill spectrum.

Is there anyone you would like to shout out or advise us to follow? Who inspires you? (It doesn’t even have to be related to woodworking.)

I’d like to shout out to a couple of my friends who have also been involved in woodworking and I can always count on for encouragement, to talk about work or just to feel sorry for a project that didn’t go quite well. Tim of Totten’s Timber Woodcraft (@ totten86 on Instagram) and Freddie of Built By Pops Woodshop (@builtbypops on Instagram).

See more of Terry’s work on his Etsy or Instagram @peregrinewoodshop.

Woodworking in America: Terry Streetman

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