Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 169, September 2019Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
 
Women in Woodworking - Meet Ashley Grenon
By Char Miller-King
Atlanta, GA

It is always great to interview people like Ashley Grenon, an Alabama woodworker with a unique set of skills. As a self-proclaimed geek she incorporates her love of video games into her woodworking projects. Whether its printing 3D Darth Vader models or giant wood Goomba's from SketchUP drawings, she has it all covered. I personally have a lot to thank Ashley for, she introduced me to Workbenchcon, a weekend conference for woodworkers, turners, makers, and tinkerers from all over the country. The conference features sessions from how to grow on Instagram to meeting potential sponsors and some of your favorite woodworking "celebrities." I also had the opportunity to finally meet Ashley there.

Ashley runs her blog "Handmade with Ashley" and her YouTube channel by the same name along with several other social media platforms. She posts easy to make woodworking projects, 3D printed projects, and a bit of crocheting. Handmade with Ashley is also wildly popular on Instagram with over 18,000 followers. By day, Ashley is a software engineer in web development, so the break from a computer screen is a welcomed hobby for her and she is pretty amazing at making things. The opportunity to create things with her hands is essential to her, and it all started with crocheting, which she picked up from her mother. That soon transitioned into working with wood.

One of the first projects Ashley made was a dining room table for her home. Using plans from Ana White's website along with her first set of tools, a circular saw and pocket hole jig, she created the table, which she still has to this day. With no prior experience in wood selection or power tools she decided to go for it. Admittedly she was fearful of the circular saws kickback, but she trudged through the project. Needless to say, the circular saw wasn't among her favorite tools, initially. Many of her early projects were made with a Japanese handsaw, of which she now owns several. About three years into making, she decided to take a fundamentals of woodworking class held at her local makerspace in order to increase her skill set. Ashley describes this as a "game changer." From there she purchased a jointer and planer and began four squaring lumber.

When it comes to pixel themed projects, Ashley has it down pat. Whether it is plywood or endgrain projects, they all start with several small squares which she creates grooves for with her Makita compact router. Then it's on to the bandsaw or jigsaw to cut out the shape of her character and a bit of sanding before priming and painting each "pixel" by hand. What she has is an incredible, almost life-sized, 8-bit representation of two of her favorite things, woodworking and video games.

She has a dedicated workshop in her 2 car garage, which includes two bandsaws, a Grizzly 14" and a Rikon 10". The larger of the two bandsaws is used solely for resawing and the smaller is for making curvy cuts. Ashley has even mastered cutting a perfect circle on the bandsaw, which she has a great video for on her YouTube channel. Her circle making even goes through the process of creating a sanding jig for her Rigid oscillating belt sander. Along with her planer, jointer, and router table she has a SawStop Table Saw.

Ashley introduced many of us to wood filament which is used in a 3D printed box she made. She used a PLA filament infused with wood. 3D printing has seen a sudden rise in the maker industry by making this technology available to home-based makers. The thin layers of filament made from materials such as algae, metal, and even beer allow you to produce almost anything utilizing software such as TinkerCAD or SketchUP. Ashley's uniquely made Venus box opens and closes similar to how a mechanical iris works. The great thing about printing with wood filament is that it can be sanded and stained. For this project Ashley used HatchBox's 3D wood filament and plans from Thingiverse. Utilizing these amazing skills Ashley often collaborates with other makers. She 3D printed a Darth Vader bust and sent it to a friend to embed in a wood resin sphere. There's also a pair of Predator Action pliers and origami rabbits she made using blue PLA that turned out great!

Currently Ashley is working on a mobile cart for her benchtop router. Last Christmas, Ashley received a Laguna Revo 1236 with 2HP, which includes an 36" inboard capacity for turning table legs. With Christmas around the corner, she is looking to gear up on making gifts such as pens on her new lathe. Ashley is also the co-host of the Art of Geek Challenge, which is a monthly maker themed challenge where anyone can participate by submitting a project based on a chosen theme. Ashley made a Star Trek themed bandsaw box as her entry. You can even find Game of Thrones and X-Men entries over at The Art of Geek Challenge.

I asked Ashley what advice she would give to anyone starting out in woodworking. She reflected on her first build, the dining room table that she was intimated by. She said it was a struggle but it was a building block to get to where she is now. "Don't be afraid to try, just jump in, don't be afraid to fail." She notes that scrap wood projects are some of her favorite projects; they make great cutting boards! As a full time software engineer, Ashley's skills are complex enough to go full time; however she really enjoys her day job and wants to focus on pushing out content consistently and getting more action on her blog. Her humbleness and talent are unmatched.

You can check out Ashley's work on her website at https://www.ashleygrenon.com/ and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


You can check out Char's website at https://www.thewoodenmaven.com/ and follow her on Instagram at @woodenmaven.

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