Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 179, July 2020Welcome 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 Jessie Greene
By Char Miller-King
Atlanta, GA

If you take one look at Jessie Greene's Instagram feed you'll know that that phrase "go big or go home" is her motto. Jessie's projects range from full on 3D accent walls to built-ins, she reigns as queen designer and maker of her home.

Building from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, within her three-car garage, Jessie not only works full-time, but also wears the crown while she and her husband raise their three boys. As a weekend warrior, woodworking is her creative outlet.

It all began with a magnetic chalkboard and a Christmas gift that would change everything, a Ryobi combo kit. From there, Jessie honed her skills by learning from other makers such as Ana White and Shanty to Chic. Their plans make learning accessible to everyone with simple instructions and affordable power tools. While Jessie has not taken any formal classes, her research skills through the Internet have provided her with all the knowledge she needs to tackle these amazing projects.

There's a certain uniqueness and confidence she brings to the woodworking world with her projects, such as the wood table top she made which actually looks like real marble. With the use of spray paint, epoxy, and a torch, you would never know it was not a chip off of a metamorphic rock. Her quaint coffee table was complete with geometric shapes and designs. Then there was the time she created her own hashtag #builtbyjessiehousecrash, when she came to Georgia to give her sister's fireplace a makeover. She spent a few days, knocking out bricks, caulking, high heat painting, adding storage benches, and floating shelves.

Some will say it's the details that count and Jessie has us covered there with her unmatched scroll work. Whether it's punching out a 3D name sign with a map background or a home décor piece.

She dives into her material of choice, MDF, but always makes sure to wear a mask as the dust emitting from MDF contains smaller particles than your standard soft woods or plywood. The process of creating MDF requires the use of formaldehyde, a known human carcinogen. On the flip side, you have a material that is so versatile, it cuts likes butter and takes paint like no other surface. Jessie recommends sanding to achieve a smooth finish, purchasing additional blades for your scroll saw as they snap easily, and using a filler primer, such as Rust-Oleum. One of the best tips she has for cutting insides of letters, is to first drill a hole for the scroll saw blade and then re-insert the cut out with painter's tape. This will provide stability for continuing your cut.

Jessie's house and garage are full of the projects she's created, every now and then she will take on commissions. While being very protective of her family time, she is very selective with her projects. To meet her criteria, she has these strict guidelines before saying yes. If the project is something "I think I'd enjoy making, challenges me or enables me to learn a new skill, or use a new tool, and I don't end up making for scraps because I've undersold when I quoted a price. Learn to value myself. My time is precious!"

One of the builds that fit the bill were two queen size, Pottery Barn inspired beds that were HUGE and heavy. Each of the beds had six drawers and this was her first time making them, which can be one of the trickiest things to tackle for many makers. There are a variety of ways makers install them, from creating basic drawer slides with a scrap pieces of wood to using an actual drawer jig that allows you to ensure both sides of the drawer are level. Most of her plans are original and made to fit her space. To envision her final project she relies on the old-fashioned method of pencil and paper and hopes to get more involved with SketchUp.

There's a long list of tools that complete Jessie's shop. She has everything from a Rigid table saw to an entire arsenal of sanders, including palm, random orbital, belt, sheet finish and a corner sander. Among her favorite and most used tool, is the compact miter saw and 18 gauge nailer. One of the best attributes about Jessie's builds are that she says "pine is fine." She uses economical lumber for a majority of her projects and relies on Spax screws since there's no need for pilot holes. Surprisingly, she has identified an even shorter route for covering screw holes, using trim head screws which have a smaller head. When using pine, she never skips the pre-stain step that prevents blotching.

She's also discovered another method to prevent blotching called water popping. Water popping can be used as an alternative to pre-staining. Using a spray bottle with a 1:1 ratio of water and denatured alcohol or just purified water, spray after sanding and allow to dry. The water allows for the wood fibers to stand which ultimately produces a smoother finish. It also removes most of the swirls created by sanding, giving you more surface area to create a smoother more even finish.

With so much knowledge under her belt, Jessie shared these words for beginners, "If you can find a buddy, ask questions...If not, know that there is a whole woodworking community out there in the world and we loooove to share our knowledge! Just ask! We love making friends."

A year from today, Jessie hopes to have her website up and running and effectively document her process to help others learn and build up the courage to create their own projects. Even more so, she has these powerful words for being a woman in this space. "To me it means that I am relinquishing gender norms and I think that is pretty awesome. Strong, Smart, Spectacular. It is unique to be a part of an elite class."

You can learn more about Jessie Greene, by following her on Instagram and Facebook. You can also watch her on her YouTube channel.

You can find out more about Char and her woodworking on her website and by following her on Instagram.

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