Drop Quote: “It’s kind of like a person who’s gone down the wrong path. It takes a little bit longer to get them together as opposed to being a blank slate, but at the end it will have a story.” — Matt Buell, Revolution Wood
By Terrah Baker
Matt Buell of Fayetteville spent much of his life wanting to be a somebody — a lawyer, a therapist, a rock star. But one day he picked up a piece of wood and a router, and began to change his goal from being somebody, to creating something.
It began by stripping varnish from electric guitars, as paint changes the tone, and became a mission of making furniture personal again.
To start his business, now known as Revolution Wood, he had a lifetime of experience, just none in woodworking. When he first discovered his love for the craft, he was employed at a facility with people who were struggling.
“I started every night coming home from work and going straight out there. And after about two weeks all I had was a little power drill and a circular saw. I didn’t even know how to cut a straight board,” Buell said.
He bought his first router and began zipping through a slab of wood, noticing the beauty of the cauterization, and the feeling of making what could be considered nothing into something.
“It looked terrible. But I realized there’s nothing else I’d rather do,” he said.
Because he didn’t have much start-up funds he began collecting antique and discarded wood that others had labeled as junk. It allowed him to make it affordable, as well as feel like the pieces had stories, a history and a life of their own.
“It’s kind of like a person who’s gone down the wrong path. It takes a little bit longer to get them together as opposed to being a blank slate, but at the end it will have a story,” he said.
Many of the pieces like his music stand, side tables and chairs sold in his family-owned shop at 4083 N. Shiloh, Ste. 6, in Fayetteville are made from 100-year-old church pews that took him six hours to rip apart, as they were held together by copper nails put in place a century ago.
A lion’s-head table is one of his prized accomplishments for its originality and character and is made of old bookshelves from a library in Little Rock. He recently spent a day unloading 16-feet-long by 12-inch-wide oak slabs that used to be part of a building on the Fayetteville square, for what will become a dining room table.
He’s learned most of his skills by trial and error, with help from a few woodworking friends, but has found the hardest part of the craft to be making people understand the value of hand-made furniture.
“It’s hard to do regular traditional furniture because when they call me and they want me to do a bid, I’ll ask them “what kind of lumber do you want? ‘I don’t know,’” he said is the usual reply. “People don’t know they can choose.”
Buell thinks our society has unknowingly lost the knowledge of, and appreciation for, quality items that they can’t just hand-pick and take home that day at costs unattainable by local artisans. But he’s working on that, too, by getting his work out in the public eye.
“I want to give people options to have something personal in their home again. They have a story and a soul of their own … I think our existence as a whole could use a little bit more of that, and I believe it starts with your home,” he said.
For more information on Buell’s shop, Revolution Wood, and unique products, call 479-966-6358.