My name is Marc J. Spagnuolo. I am a podcaster, video producer, and woodworking enthusiast. I have contributed articles and video content to FineWoodworking.com, Popular Woodworking Magazine and WOOD Magazine. Producing the Wood Whisperer is a great way for me to combine four of my passions: woodworking, technology, education, and humor.
After leaving the biotech industry, and with a significant amount of encouragement and support from my wife Nicole, I started my own woodworking business called Marc’s Wood Creations. I tried to focus primarily on studio furniture, but most of my time was spent on standard cabinetry, commercial work, and refinishing. The Wood Whisperer started as a way for me to share my experiences as I built projects for clients. Today, creating videos for this website is my primary business and I only occasionally take on new clients.
As for my background, I started woodworking as a hobby and was immediately sucked into it. I watched every DVD and read every book and magazine I could get my hands on. Eventually, I attended a few woodworking classes to fill in some of the major gaps in my education. Through an interesting turn of events, I had the good fortune of working with my good friend and mentor David J. Marks. So while I am mostly self-taught, I have been lucky to have some incredible learning experiences and continue to be influenced by the thousands of woodworkers I communicate with every day. I am still happily prancing along on the path of my woodworking education and I will always be a student of the craft. My goal is to simply share my experiences and present them in a way that entertains and hopefully educates my fellow woodworkers. Want to hear more about how I got where I am today? Read Below.
I use Macs for everything related to the show and the website. I create all of my podcasts using Final Cut Pro X and GarageBand. My main video editing machine is a Mac Pro. My video camera is a Panasonic HMC-150 and my microphones are a Sony UWP-V6 Wireless for the lavaliere mic and a Heil PR-40 for the Wood Talk podcast and voiceovers. Audio is run through an Alesis MultiMix8 FireWire. Our lighting setup consists of several light boxes from Steve Kaeser Lighting and Accessories, although we rarely use these in our videos anymore.
When I was working in Biotech, I almost accidentally found myself in a management position and training simply became a part of my daily work life. I am a natural introvert and spent most of my life as “the quiet kid”. But once I started training people on a topic I fully understood, everything changed. So training, sharing information, and demystifying complex topics is something that I brought with me from biotech, into the world of woodworking. Even while I was building furniture for clients I would take on the occasional student in a one on one woodworking class. Although I don’t teach classes from my shop anymore, I do periodically travel to teach at schools and to give seminars on various woodworking topics. But my primary focus these days is providing education through both video and audio podcasts and The Wood Whisperer Guild.
I have watched a LOT of woodworking DVDs in my time. And while the information is usually solid, the delivery of said information packs the same punch as a Tylenol PM. I have literally fallen asleep while watching woodworking DVDs more times than I care to admit. So when I started making The Wood Whisperer, I knew I wanted it to be light-hearted and energetic. Watch more than a few of my shows, and you’ll quickly see that I am a goofball. While I take my woodworking very seriously, there is no reason I can’t smile, make jokes, and have some fun while doing it. And if you ever fall asleep while watching one of my videos, you are entitled to a full refund.
What’s It Like Interview – Listen Now!
Foolish Adventure Interview – How to Quit Your Job and Live Your Passion – Listen Now!
Baltimore Sun Interview (May 2007) – Listen Now!
One-Minute How-To Caring for Wooden Cutting Board (September 2006) – Listen Now!
Woodcraft Magazine- Poker Chip Trays – Cover and Article March 2007
Popular Woodworking Magazine articles:
October 2008 – My Favorite Power Tools Accessory: Hand Tools
December 2008 – Free-Form Sculpting
August 2008 – The Magic of Masking Tape
December 2009 – Getting the Most From Your Router
Feb. 2009 – Throw Away Your Tape Measure
April 2009 – A Sticky Situation
June 2009 – Not Just for the New
Aug. 2009 – John Hall’s Frame
What’s your story?
Many people write in asking for the full story on how I got where I am today. Ask and you shall receive.Grab a cup of coffee and get ready for a long story. I started out working in biotech right out of college. Like many of you, I had a good career ahead of me…….and I hated every minute of it. I had a horrible commute, a bad relationship with my boss, and my love for science was quickly diminishing. Now on the other end of the spectrum, my woodworking hobby was getting more and more serious. I just couldn’t get enough shop time. In fact, my wife started getting quite annoyed with me because I wanted to spend all of my free time working in the garage. I loved spending time with my wife, but there was just something about being in the shop that really healed the battle wounds of the work day.
I started doing jobs here and there for friends and neighbors, which really planted the seed for my thoughts of starting my own business. After a while, we decided to move from Southern California to Arizona. Since I needed to quit my job anyway, Nicole suggested I take some time to work with David Marks (that’s a whole other story). After the short term “apprenticeship” (and I use this term loosely), we made the decision to start a new woodworking business called Marc’s Wood Creations. I had to start from scratch, but I had two things going for me: a nice big garage for a shop and my wife’s dependable salary. Between you and me, I think she liked the idea of being a sugar mama. Don’t get me wrong though, money was very tight for a while, but I managed to get by with only a few jobs here and there in the first year of business. During that time, I started to offer woodworking classes out of my shop. I also started shopping myself around as a woodworking instructor and scored a few jobs at woodworking schools around the country.
So by the end of the first year, I had a good website, lots of business cards, lettering on my truck, but ultimately not enough business to pay the bills. In order to pull my weight, I got a full-time job with an engineering company here in Phoenix. I still ran the business on the side and I learned a few important lessons. First, I was reminded how much it sucks to work 9-5 pursuing someone else’s dream. I also learned that I would be miserable doing anything other than following my own ambitions. So once we got through the rough patch, I decided to re-double my efforts and go back into woodworking full-time. Just to make things a little easier, I started working for a refinishing shop in Phoenix a few days a week. Not only did this bring in steady money, it also taught me a crap ton about finishing! I had a steady flow of customers and felt pretty comfortable for the next year or so.
That brings us to November 2006, when I started The Wood Whisperer. And frankly, NOTHING has been the same since. What started as a fun little side project has taken over my life and career and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are still evolving as a business, but one thing is clear: The Wood Whisperer is our future.
So at this point I may not be the best person to give advice on how to make the jump to woodworking full-time. Clearly I am taking a different path that I originally anticipated. But if could give any advice it would be this: build up the business while you have the security of a steady paycheck. Start doing some advertising. See what kind of prices you can command for your work while it really doesn’t affect you or your family. I would also suggest not limiting yourself to just building custom furniture. Build anything and everything people are willing to pay you to build. Don’t turn down refinishing jobs. They are a great way to make a quick buck with very little material investment. Make your presence known at a local level and put a bunch of irons in the fire. If one part of the business is slow, you can always rely on the others. By the time you have more business than you can handle in your spare time, its time to crunch the numbers and see if you could survive doing the woodworking full time. You’ll also be able to see if any one of those irons in the fire is active enough to start specializing in. All I can say is that’s the system that worked for me, and consequently that’s the system I recommend to others. Your results may vary. :) In my opinion, this is the safest way to make the shift.
So its not easy, but its not impossible. And you will need three other things as well: skill, luck, and a VERY supportive spouse if you have one. If your spouse doesn’t share your dream, then you are dead in the water. There will be times that you have to make sacrifices as a family, and if your spouse is not on board, this can put a lot of pressure on the marriage. Fortunately, the business was my wife’s idea and she has supported me every step of the way and continues to be an integral part of The Wood Whisperer. I hope my experience will help you in achieving your dream.