Women in Woodworking
Meet Megan Brantley
by Andrea Ramsay
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This month Megan Brantley shares her story and reminds us how the creative process of
working with your hands can be transformative.
Megan has always been a visual artist, she received a degree in art education and then focused
primarily on painting and photography. Megan was lucky to grow up with a neighbor who
exposed her to woodworking. He was a carpenter and she more or less lived in his workshop as
When I asked Megan how she came to woodworking and why it played such an important role
in her life she shared this story: "After marrying my husband Shannon, he became immensely
interested in the world of woodworking so it was all around me. About two years ago I suffered
from a miscarriage, which is a word that scares many people but it is really where my story
began. To leave it out would deny why I fell so hard for the art of woodworking. To get away for
the weekend and get our mind off of things we traveled to Atlanta. I knew I wanted to create to
keep my mind off of things, yet painting was too emotional. I decided to give spoon carving a try.
We made a trip to Highland Woodworking and I purchased a
simple carving knife
. I was immediately hooked. My first spoon attempt was not a complete disaster but let's
just say it was a starting point. I became obsessed with carving back the layers of wood and
taking a simple shape and transforming it into what felt like a functional sculpture. My brain
became delighted with the quietness of the woodshop. I fell in love. That first spoon literally
saved my life."
Her love for woodworking continues to grow. She is drawn to learning about different species of
wood and all the related characteristics. "Nature's palette is so wondrous and I enjoy
experimenting with which woods carve and finish the best." She loves taking an ordinary slice of
wood and transforming it into her own creation. She says "When I am adding finish to a piece,
and I get to send the finished product it is immensely satisfying." Megan is also inspired by the
woodworking community, "It is so welcoming and on fire. It has been such a pleasure to meet
others with the same passions you have and they are also a wealth of knowledge."
I asked Megan her thoughts on being a female in a male dominated field: "I wear being a woman
in the woodworking field as a badge of honor. It really is odd to me that more women are not in
the woodshop. In my community, I would say I am one of the few, if any, women in woodworking.
Thankfully, I have been able to meet some amazing women in the woodworking world through
social media and continue to be inspired by them." Megan shared that she feels many women
and men are actually intimidated when they hear the word "woodworking" and automatically
think of table saws and giant dangerous power tools."I think educating more women about the
broad variety of means that can be created in the woodshop and diminishing the fear is a big
goal of mine." She shared that when she and her husband go to shows and customers are
browsing their creations, which are made by both of them, many times she get asked, "So did
your husband make all of this?" "It is nice to say, no, I made much of it with own two hands."
The truth is she knows more about woodworking than most of her male friends, which she says
"...is quite awesome."
Megan is currently working on a supply of inventory for the next few months of shows she and
her husband will be attending. She is enjoying a bit of downtime to create new things, taking
ideas that she has had on paper for sometime and now bringing them to life. She and her
husband are collaborating on some furniture designs over the next few months. Together,
Megan and her husband Shannon are
Flannel and Floral
Megan's advice to beginning woodworkers is straightforward, "Don't be afraid. The best way to
learn is to start, and if you make mistakes (which you will and if you're like me you'll make a ton)
you will learn what not to do." She also recommends making friends with fellow woodworkers as
they are a wealth of knowledge. She cautions "Don't compare yourself to others" and
encourages us each to "...constantly learn, research, and grow." As far as a good beginner
project Megan recommends starting with a spoon as it only requires a few tools and you can
start with a small amount of wood. She has a demo on her blog and descibes some of the tools
she prefers, check it out:
. She also recommends a simple
carved tray, "just grab a small slab of wood and use a
or gouge to carve a few layers
off the top. These are great for storing keys, or any small objects around the shop or house."
Finally, Megan offers this creative inspiration "Find something you're passionate about. Your life
will definitely be enriched in ways you'd never imagine by building something with your hands."
Follow Megan on Instagram
If you are a female woodworker and are interested in sharing your story
please contact me
Andrea Ramsay is a dedicated student of hand tool woodworking since attending Port Townsend School of Woodworking and completing their three month intensive program. She left the technology world in 2014 and is happy every day that she traded in her laptop for a chisel. She does commissioned work out of her shop in Seattle's Equinox Studios.
Andrea can be reached directly via email at
and you can check out her website at
and follow her on Instagram at