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07.10.2014
Sons of Sawdust ™ is a woodworking business located in Athens, Ga that specializes in building custom farm tables, furniture and transforming entire spaces with reclaimed wood.
The Hobbs brothers started Sons of Sawdust ™ after a series of unfortunate events that lead them to desperation and brokenness. A few years ago Matt and his wife, Shayna, lost their once successful photography business during the recession. Shortly after Ben’s knee injury, he recalls, “I got really depressed, because that was my only source of income.
Within a few days Ben got a call from a guy who was tearing down an old house and wanted to get rid of the wood, so the brothers jumped on what looked like a good opportunity. The business may have originated from a stroke of luck in a desperate situation, but the Hobbs brothers' story as woodworkers has been much longer in the making. Matt and Ben's grandfather passed away in 2008 with Alzheimers, but they are sure that if he was still alive, he would be in the shop with them every day, having the time of his life.
In addition to telling their own story, Matt and Ben also want to tell a story with each table they make.
Each piece of wood Matt and Ben use has a unique history of its own, as do the People they get it from.
The rough textures and age-worn shapes of the old boards are what Matt and Ben value most about their tables, and they're what best tell the story of the wood it came from. It's this raw quality of their tables that draws new customers to Sons of Sawdust ™ each month. Matt and Ben’s own story is as good as the ones they tell through each table they make: two brothers treasure-hunting for old wood to make tables with their grandfather’s tools. Check out this short documentary that Randy Schafer at Flagpole Magazine produced about Sons of Sawdust ™. Built from 100 year old wood that we salvage ourselves, the Broad Street Farm Table is a staple piece in our collection. We thought it would be cool to do a quick overview of the process that we go through with every reclaimed wood farm table that we build. We then cut all of the boards to the right length based the dimensions of the table we are building. I don’t know if you already finished your table, but I have been building one using salvaged wood from a barn and it too has saw marks. This reclaimed wood table is built from tongue and groove flooring that was reclaimed from a school house that was built in the 1890's. Heart pine tongue and groove flooring is very hard to find, especially in this condition, because the floors of these old structures received a lot of moisture which caused the flooring to rot over time.


These reclaimed wood boards could be used as a charcuterie board, a display for food, a decorative touch for a fall centerpiece, or a cheese board. In early 2014 Ben was working in construction and had a knee injury which left him unemployed and broke.
And Matt, being the good brother he is, sits down with me and says, ‘How can we make some money for you? While building the table, Matt had the idea that Ben could build tables and sell the tables on Craigslist to make money until he could get back to his construction job.
Sons of Sawdust ™ started in May of 2014, but Matt and Ben started working with wood as children with their grandfather, who they credit, their primary influence when it comes to craftsmanship as well as character. He started teaching us at a very young age how to build things, and how to build them well.
Now we're doing the same thing except we're building out entire spaces with reclaimed wood.
According to them, the best stories are waiting in their own city, in the bones of buildings built generations ago. In their hunt for old houses and barns they often get to experience the rich family histories of their community.
In the short time they've been in business, Matt and Ben have expanded their clientele from a small group of friends and family to customers from all around the country and even Canada who share the Hobbs' affinity for well-crafted furniture that has significance beyond its functionality.
The farm table features a 2" thick, wide-plank tabletop, large 4"x6" legs, and inside stretcher supports at the base of the legs, which allow for more leg room.
Building furniture out of reclaimed wood is a tricky process and there's definitely no easy way to do it.
All of this wood was going to be burned by the owner of the chicken house, but we were able to reclaim it and now we are repurposing the wood and using it to build tables like the one below. Made from reclaimed wood, pressure washed, sanded several times, and coated twice with food safe butcher block oil. Matt shared this idea with Ben while sitting on his back porch just feet away from the freshly built farm table. This idea was the catalyst of the Hobbs brothers venture into woodworking as a profession. It's crazy to think that the seeds of Sons of Sawdust ™ were planted in us so long ago, now they are finally growing into something amazing," says Matt. They encountered one man who sold them the wood from an old, rundown chicken shack on his property. From sourcing the wood, to tearing down old houses and barns, to hand picking the right pieces for the specific project we are working on, everyday we are presented with unique challenges.


Of course, at some point it will if you keep sanding, but I was able to sand it completely smooth to the touch and still have beautiful saw marks.
In the mid 1900's the school house was torn down and the wood was repurposed to build a homestead house and a chicken house. Please let us know if you would be interested in owning part of the history of this incredible old wood. These boards vary in size and shape so you'll have a unique gift for your family and friends. Those are the people that are always going to be happy because they love the story, and they love where the wood came from” says Matt.
I guess you could say that our job is not a boring one and that's probably what keeps us coming back for more everyday. The flooring from the school was used as the purling in the top of the chicken house allowing it to be preserved.
When we're building something, and we come up to a problem, we just solve it, and I know It was our grandfather's coaching that gave us that ability. It’s like, this wood was from a tree that was probably 100 years old when it was cut down right here in Oconee or Clarke County, and it was part of a house where a family lived for 70 years and then it got torn down, and then we went and got it and turned it into something that's going to go into another house for maybe another 70 years and just kind of keep it alive,” says Matt. Matt and Ben learned that the chicken shack had been built with the wood from a schoolhouse built in the 1890s, of which the property owner's grandfather was the founder. We’re carrying on his legacy through the woodworking we're doing, and I think that's a powerful story." says Matt. In their hunt for good wood, the Hobbs brothers have found many great family stories like this, and by recrafting the wood they find into tables, they are able to connect with those families and continue to tell their story for several more years. I noticed on the farm table you did sand it prior to the poly coats…sanding it smooth doesn’t take away the saw marks?? The stories that you will share around our tables and the memories that you will create with your family while sitting around this old wood, inspires us to bring the next piece back to life.



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