Eye Candy Woodworks

originally published Spring 2016

Dr. Joshua Massey, 29, O.D., of Southern Eye Care of Clinton, makes a living helping people with their vision. But now he has turned his own vision into a reality through a project he’s cleverly-dubbed “Eye Candy Woodworks.”

The hobby-turned-small-business came to be about a year and a half ago, when Massey and his wife Brittany got married. “We were looking for furniture for our home, but everything we liked was way too expensive,” said Massey. “I told my wife that for that price, I could build a table myself, and she said, ‘Fine, why don’t you?’”

So Massey went to work, building a dining room table from the little woodworking knowledge he had. “I’d built little things here and there, but that was my first major project,” he said. He had to borrow tools from a friend, but now his collection is slowly growing. “I use the excuse of being able to sell my pieces to buy more equipment,” he added.

He’s made everything from farm tables to display cabinets, but his favorite projects to work on are cutting boards. “I don’t have a lot of time,” Massey said. “So small cutting boards are easier and make a great gift for someone.”

Making a cutting board consists of sanding down the wood, sometimes gluing different kinds of wood together, routing the edges, and soaking it in mineral oil. “I love the sanding,” he said. “It’s when you really see the wood come to life.” “I can make a cutting board in a matter of one night,” he added. But it may take him several days depending on how busy his work load is.

However, something more complex, such as a farm table, can take a while longer. Massey works a little bit at a time, utilizing his weekends at home. “If I sit down and focus each weekend, I could make a table in about 3 or 4 weeks,” he said.

But Massey isn’t focused on efficiency. For him, it’s mostly a hobby, a creative outlet when he’s not working at the eye clinic. “It’s nice to work with my hands,” he said. “And I like having something that I can call my own. Once you see something that you’ve made yourself, it makes you feel like a man.”

Not only does Massey make an array of wood creations, but he also uses a variety of wood types. “You can really experiment with different species of hardwoods,” he said. “And all the wood that you see in my projects is natural. I don’t use paint or stain.”

He also prides himself on how his pieces are one-of-a-kind. “It’s something unique. Nobody else probably has that type of wood. I always suggest something different from what you can just buy and I try to do things that you won’t see in the store. I like that my pieces mean something.”

He said he continues to learn from each project and improve his process. “Every time I build something, I find a new technique to use or a new tool that I need,” he said. “It can’t be perfect, but I’m sure to never sacrifice the quality.” In fact, that’s what his customers seem to be pleased about the most, the quality of his work for the price. And seeing the happy reactions from the recipients of his work is what brings Massey the most joy.

His wife is also a fan, especially since he’s been able to put the new trade to practical use around the house. It’s allowed him to fix chair legs or antique furniture passed down from relatives. “As long as I keep the garage halfway clean, she’s happy,” he said. “I’ve built a work station where she can at least park the car.”

His advice for anyone wanting to get into woodworking is to be patient; it’s a learning process. He hopes to start making chairs in the future, which are a little more complex, as well as different variations of tables.

But while Massey enjoys making wood creations for people, he’s mostly hoping to keep his small business just that, small, and takes orders on a case-by-case basis. “Right now, I’m so invested in my clinic, but one day I would love to have a shop and a larger running business.”

He may be devoted to his career as an eye doctor, but he proves you can have more than one passion and balance them well. In fact, Massey calls himself a “full-time eye doctor and part-time woodworking enthusiast.” “If you can have a hobby and learn a skill or trade that you love, it’s a great thing,” he added.

Find out more about Dr. Massey’s woodworks via the “Eye Candy Woodworks” Facebook page.

-Abigail Walker

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A freelance writer from the Deep South with a love of reading, writing, dramatic storytelling, indie music, and her corgi pup.

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