“I love the creativity,” says Jeremy Knight, owner of the community-driven woodshop Burled and Knotted. “You can do the same thing and it looks completely different because each piece of wood is different.”
Knight opened Burled and Knotted on Halloween 2016. He says, “I’ve always been a woodworker. I was a graphic artist before this, but I kept needing more and more tools, and I got to a point where I needed a bigger space, and the company I was working for went under, so it was the perfect time to do something on my own.”
Knight got the idea for the community-driven woodshop from the West Coast, where there are a lot of similar shops popping up.
“I didn’t want to be driving down the road one day and see that someone else had taken the initiative first, so I just jumped right in and did it and it’s been good ever since,” he says.
Although Knight does a lot of custom work, getting people to do their own projects is the ultimate goal. He’s there to do things if they don’t want to do it themselves or take his required safety class, but the business is designed around community. It can be challenging with so many different requests and project ideas coming in, but Knight appreciates that every day is different.
For example, he’s made an entertainment center for a family with two dog kennels underneath. Another customer requested a custom cutout. She is in the Air Force and is also a big fan of Wonder Woman, so Knight created a coin-shaped background with both the Air Force and Wonder Woman logo on it.
“I try not to limit anyone’s ideas,” he says. He’s helped customers finish all sorts of projects, from tables and chairs to walking sticks. “I try to keep an eye on everybody. Even if they know what they’re doing, an extra set of hands never hurts.”
Originally, Knight thought his customers would be mainly experienced woodworkers, but a lot of women come in with enthusiasm for the learning and safety process.
“We meet some awesome people—military guys, women, people making gifts,” he says. “It’s been really cool working with everybody and they’re usually more than willing to learn.”
Cutting boards have been the most popular project for customers to work on. Burled and Knotted holds cutting board classes several times a week, as well as classes on jewelry boxes, skateboards, wooden name signs—whatever is in demand.
Customers provide Knight with ideas from Pinterest, the popular online idea service. One request was a wine holder that would work well for a picnic and holds a bottle of wine and two glasses. Knight plans to add this to his class options.
Burled and Knotted offers memberships for customers who want to do a longer project. They can choose how many hours to include in the membership, depending on the project. Knight helps with acquiring materials. A single-day membership is being offered for anyone who needs wood to be cut, but doesn’t need to commit to a longer membership. In those cases, they bypass the safety class and Knight works one-on-one to accomplish the project.
Knight does a lot of cutout projects by hand with a projector, but he is planning to get a machine for computerized cuts based on the growing demand.
One of his latest cutout projects was making all the Marvel characters for a show at City Center’s fall festival. These sold well and Knight also donated some to CHKD, giving them the whole set of characters to match customer purchases. “That was a cool thing to do for the kids,” he reflects.
Knight’s grandfather sparked his interest in woodworking. He cut anything requested, never charging—
it was his hobby. “When I was young and dumb and should have been learning from him, I wasn’t,” Knight says. “I didn’t really want to and he passed away three years ago. I learn more now from looking at the things he built than anything else, which I think is awesome.”
Knight’s grandfather was a NASA engineer who worked on the Apollo program and Knight’s dad followed in his footsteps. “We’re [a family] full of engineers who like to tinker and figure things out,” says Knight.
Even with the business, woodworking is still Knight‘s hobby. Although he closes at normal end-of-business hours, he returns to the shop most nights after spending some time with his Boston Terrier Pug, Bella.
“I like building or tinkering with new ideas—just trying to improve myself and my skills. I used to be shy, but now it’s really fun, working with people and getting them excited about creating their own treasures.”
TO THE POINT
Burled and Knotted
Address: 11861 Canon Blvd., Ste. G, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Jeremy Knight, owner
Business: Community-driven woodshop