Carving Out, Honing In
The Triangle Area is a hotbed for creatives like Jacob Arthur, but he’s a special kind of talent. He puts an amazing amount of drive and intensity behind things he is passionate about, and one of those passions is woodworking. Owner of Stump Wood Co., a Savannah College of Art & Design Senior, a Veteran and Raleigh resident, Jacob talks to us about growing up amongst wood shavings to a collaboration with another local designer.
What kind of products do you make at Stump Wood Co.?
I make a wide variety of products at SWC. They range from coffee scoops to cheese/bread boards to wooden spatulas. From time to time I have even done custom order skateboards, which is a nice change of pace and something I enjoy.
How long have you been carving… and what got you interested?
The first time I remember carving something was when my dad got me a folding knife when I was 8 and I used it to carve my own walking sticks. Not long after, I tried to make my own skateboard, which didn’t work out too well, but the attempt was fun. I would say watching my father work around and with wood was one of the main things that got me interested. He was a carpenter by trade so I was always surrounded by sawdust and the sound of woodworking tools. Something was always being made out of wood so I guess that stuck with me through childhood and into adulthood.
How did you land on the name “Stump Wood Co.”?
That’s a good question because the name really landed on me. When thinking about starting my own business I couldn’t think of a name for the company. Then in frustration—because I couldn’t think of what to name my company—I said, “I’m stumped!” That’s when I first thought of Stump. That name has taken on a special meaning to me beyond it being the name of my company. The stump is what’s often left behind after the tree has been cut down. Some stumps rot and deteriorate but sometimes the stump will take the life that’s left in the roots and regrow. I’ve seen it many times in the woods—a stubborn little stump refusing to die, regrowing what it lost, a little branch with a green leaf pushing up to the sky. I felt like that after I had returned from being deployed to war; cut down, almost defeated but wanting to regrow the emotional part of me that I had lost overseas. Stump is a rough word and it doesn’t roll off the tongue, which some may consider a poor choice when choosing a name but that’s the reason I like the name stump. It’s an unapologetic word. It says, “You cut me down, but I’m still here. My roots are still in the ground and I can continue to grow!”
You have a unique partnership with local artisan 440 Gentleman Supply. Tell us about that.
Derek Keller, the owner of 440 Gentleman Supply was a good friend before either of us started our own businesses. I’ve always admired his craft and skill when it comes to leatherwork. His attention to detail is one reason I really enjoyed partnering with him on a couple collaborations and it’s a great way to bounce new ideas off each other. We’ve done leather and wood breadboards and leather and wood custom one-off skateboards. I’m looking forward to future collaborations with 440 Gentleman Supply.
What goes through your mind when choosing a piece of wood? And what’s your favorite type of wood to work with?
“What do you want to be?” is the thought that comes into my mind most often. I think most often that the natural shape of the wood dictates to me which piece I should choose.
Some pieces could make a great serving board while others may be better suited for a spoon. Often times I will grab a block of wood and stare at it for days before I decide what I will carve it into.
It’s actually a very relaxing part of the process. The grain in wood can be like clouds and shapes can appear if one looks long enough. As for my favorite wood to work with, if I had to pick one type of wood (which is hard for a woodworker), I would say Black Walnut. I love the deep, rich dark colors and how those colors contrast with the lighter colors of its sapwood.
For more information about Stump Wood Co., their products and pop-up shops, check out their Instagram account, @stumpwoodco.