Matt Thomas: Minimalist Functional Woodwork

The story of Matt Thomas is a classic account of turning adversity into strength. Growing up as the son of a carpenter, he was surrounded by lumber, tools, and construction from an early age. As an adult he began his own business as a general contractor. Woodworking was a favorite spare-time hobby for which he enjoyed local renown but not much commercial success. He preferred the process of working at home with his family, but wasn't ready to give up his contracting business or income.

Then, on a rainy day in 2011, he fell off a roof he was just in the process of finishing. Asked about his career trajectory a few years later, Matt said, "I wasn’t pushed into full-time artisan work, I fell into it." While recovering he saw a clear opportunity to turn his love for woodworking into a full-time endeavor. With timely support and assistance from the Tamarack Foundation, a group charged with fostering entrepreneurship among the most talented of West Virginia’s artisans, Matt started a new business focused on designing and producing handmade work in his home studio.

Today, working with native West Virginia cherry, walnut, and maple, he creates everything from chopsticks to furniture. He is fascinated by the details of design and production, approaching each project as though it were a puzzle and always striving for the cleanest lines, the most elegant look, and the most efficient steps.


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