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Maker Interview – Stephen of The Wood Pastor

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Aaron: Hey guys my name Aaron Massey from House One and today I’m here with Stephen Michutka, The Wood Pastor. Stephen, thanks for joining us. 

Stephen: No problem.

Aaron: So tell us a little about, about the Wood Pastor and how you get started.

Stephen: I started making money woodwork about five years ago. And then it turned into…I kinda wanted to market is as brand and start a website. And you need a name, you need a logo, or so I was told. So I started thinking; how can I be creative but keep things simple and came up with The Wood Pastor just because I was helping my church with builds and stuff and part of the percentage of what I made was going to missions at the time. I just wanted to give back and it’s just, it’s kind of built from there. It’s kind of taken off. I’m still feeling it out.

How did you get started?

Stephen: I was cheap, literally, like I was cheap. I had just moved into a house, I had very little furniture. And I knew with the help of some friends that I could build a bed for my son. So that’s really where it started. I was pretty proud of myself. I put it on Facebook and some other people started asking if I could build a bed for their kids. So I started out just building beds only, and then transitioned to other builds, like DIY stuff. I was all over like just picking DIY sites like, “Oh, what else can I build and put in the house?”

How is transitioning to a full-time maker?

Stephen: Me and my wife—I got remarried a year and a half ago—and we just had a kid. And I had just left education for the second time. And I knew if I left it, I was like, I had to have a backup obviously, I needed to still make money but, I talked to a friend that worked at a cabinet shop and I was like, if woodworking is my passion, I wanted to find something doing that.

Have you grown as a maker?

Stephen: Once you start growing and you’re consistent, I think you can keep growing especially if you’re putting out decent content whether it be a custom build or just having fun with what you’re doing. But for me, it’s just, I really like doing woodworking. So I like seeking out new projects. That’s one reason I went to the cabinet shop. I don’t know anything about cabinet building and it turned into; “you’re gonna doing more than cabinets, you’re going to be helping a set stone, you’re going to be helping do a bunch of other different things.” So I was like, cool, I get paid to learn.

What is your favorite project?

Stephen: Dining tables, coffee tables, that tends to be like, my build. And my favorite tends to be the one that I’m working on, it seems like. There’s something about tables that they’re so simple, but you can make them very ornate just by changing one little thing like the base, or you can mix metal and wood. So I really like tables.

What is your best advice for new DIY’ers?

Stephen: I’ve had a few people asked me and some people say, “just start”. Well, start on what? You really have to have somewhat of an end goal in mind. And it may change, that goal may change, but you have to have a goal and then you gotta start working towards that goal. For me, I got on Instagram and that’s where I’m growing a lot right now. I got on Instagram really just to be the in two places, Facebook, Instagram. Well Instagram turned into like a “social influencer” type of thing. And I really just thought it was a way to pick up more business locally, and it grew from there. So I would say pick a goal and just take a baby step towards that goal. Cause I’m doing a lot, I have the curse of; I want to do it all and I want to do it all myself, and it’s hard to be really good at everything. I’m fine-tuning right now. I’m really picking like one, two or three things that I can fine-tune and just kind of hit a few other things.

Where do you find inspiration?

Stephen: It’s honestly guys that are open with what they’re doing and they’ve had growth. The success of like Brad from Fix This Build That—he’s always super open. I don’t know how he comments to everybody—like he wants to share information. Ben Uyeda, I followed him for a long time. And then recently I’ve talked to Mike Montgomery from Modern Builds a lot. I mean for such a young guy super successful already in this space. And he so willing to share, just very easy to talk to. I love people like that cause that’s someone I aspire to be like. No matter how much I grow or learn or whatever, I always want to at least share the knowledge that I’ve learned along the way. That means a lot to me. 

How do you balance work and family life?

Stephen: It can be overwhelming sometimes because I’m working a lot of hours a week at this new job, but really it’s a communication thing with my wife like I say I ask for permission, but really it’s a back and forth. I have to say, “Hey, I want to do this what’s a good day” or “what’s a good time?” And our schedules have to match up because she’s basically self-employed. So she might work late some nights and some nights I might work late. So it’s really when can I get in the garage? When can I go to my parents, because they have a bigger space. And then with my boys, I don’t want to push it too hard. So, if they’re going to get into making I want them to kind of do it on their own, the older boys. But I see glimmers here and there. I just want them to be creative because I think it keeps your mind working. And then also I don’t want them to think that they have to do what I’m doing. I do, the main thing I want to give them and impart to them is, you can do what you’re passionate about and make money doing it and be happy doing it. You don’t have to make a ton of money. You can, it takes work. But I want them to get into something whether they go to college, or they just start kind of mentally planning now like, what do I like? What can I make money doing that I like? I just want them to know that there’s options because I think when I went to college I didn’t feel like I had options. 

Aaron: So if you guys want to check out more of Stephen’s stuff, make sure you check them out on Instagram at the Wood Pastor on Facebook, anywhere. You can just search The Wood Pastor, and this is your guy. Thanks for coming, man. Appreciate it.

Stephen: Appreciate it.

Jenn Largesse
By Jenn Largesse
Jenn Largesse is the editor and creator of House One. As the daughter of a carpenter and an english teacher, she has been honing her love for woodworking and writing her entire life. After nearly a decade as a writer and producer for This Old House, she bought her first home in rural New England and launched her blog, Build Basic.

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