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Daily Inspiration: Meet Ryan Barnes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Barnes.

Hi Ryan, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
Woodwork has a long history with my family. My Great, Great Grandfather, Matthew Barnes, and my Great Grandfather George Barnes hewed white oak ties for the railroad when it was being built in Reed’s Spring, Missouri in the early 1900s. Fast forward several decades and my Father, Robert Barnes started working for a casket factory in Crane, Missouri building wooden frames for caskets. He proposed the idea of outsourcing the framework and started his own business building the frames for the factory. This then lead him to build picture frames and soon found himself in the Ozarks Craft Guild.

After working a few festivals at Silver Dollar City, My parents rented a storefront from the park and started selling frames and bread boxes, and running antique tool demonstrations on his pedal-powered Barnes scroll saw (no relation to the tool manufacturer). This is where I began my interest in the craft. As a boy, I would play with the antique tools, especially the scroll saw and lathe. Still today the smell of sassafras wood brings back a flood of childhood memories. In my teenage years, I lost interest in the old tools and woodwork and became interested in printmaking and graphic design. I spent many years as a graphic artist and then pursued audiovisual and technical work.

This afforded me the opportunity to move around the country and travel the world. I met my wife, Latonya after moving to Memphis Tennessee. After moving to three other city’s we settled back in MO here in St Louis. We purchased our home in South City which included a large Garage which I promptly commandeered and my interest in making and woodwork was revived. My son and I worked on some projects and it all started coming back. I recalled how much I loved using the lathe as a kid and bought a cheap lathe and got to work. This led to many more tool purchases and upgrades to my existing equipment.

I found that my technical and design background married nicely with the newer technologies that were now in woodworking. I build a laser engraver and purchased a CNC router and began incorporation these skills. After turning in some small pieces for friends and family, I decided this would be a decent little side hustle and started my side business. Today, I mostly create houseware-related items such as cutting/charcuterie boards; rolling pins; various utensils; writing pens. I also produce some small furniture such as side tables, coffee tables, and floating shelves. Most of the domestic wood I use is rescued from urban forestry.

Trees that were damaged in a storm, or having to come down for various reasons and if not resued would end up in the wood chipper. I source this wood through a fantastic local mill in North St. Louis. The woods found there are incredible and cannot be found in your typical stores and are all local. The exotic stock I use is cutoffs purchased from a local luthier hardwood supplier. My goal is to produce my products as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Trying to build a business while being employed full-time in a totally different field is tough. Especially as demanding as my full-time job can be. What time I have away from the full time and family is spent in the shop and now at markets selling.

We are still very small but we are growing and hope to make this a full-time gig at some point. It is truly what I have found that I love to do and even if it never becomes my primary source of income, it is still my craft and if I can make a little extra money while doing what I love, then that’s good by me.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Today, I mostly create houseware-related items such as cutting/charcuterie boards; rolling pins; various utensils; writing pens. I also produce some small furniture such as side tables, coffee tables, and floating shelves. I offer personalization to customize the product for gifts. I do a fair amount of work with real estate agents to offer unique buyer’s gifts to their customers. I also do some signage and custom display work. My offerings are constantly evolving.

Most of the domestic wood I use is rescued from urban forestry. Trees that were damaged in a storm, or had to come down for various reasons and if not rescued would end up in the wood chipper. I source this wood through a fantastic local mill in North St. Louis. The woods found there are incredible and cannot be found in your typical stores and are all local.

The exotic stock I use is cutoffs purchased from a local luthier hardwood supplier. My goal is to produce my products as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Springfield News-Leader, Stone County, and Republican/Crane Chronicle

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