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Photo Essay: How the Sons of Sawdust Make a Table with Reclaimed Wood and Their Grandpa’s Tools

Flagpole followed the Hobbs brothers, Matt and Ben, who call themselves the Sons of Sawdust, last month as they dismantled an old barn in Comer and transformed the wood into tables for the local restaurant Goodie Two Shoes. Click here for a story and video about how woodworking helped the Hobbs overcome adversity.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

Ben Hobbs grabs a bundle of wood from the inside of a 100-year-old barn located deep in the woods on the property of Jeremy Patat of Comer on Feb 23. In the beginning of the Hobbs’ woodworking career, they often drove around towns looking for old dilapidated barns, but as business has grown, the brothers are contacted by various friends, associates and third parties notifying them of opportunities to pick up wood.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

Former volunteer and newly appointed apprentice Hank Sully (left), pulls at the ceiling of the old barn, as Matt Hobbs watches. Matt and Sully perform a larger portion of the teardown, while Ben loads wood to and from their truck. After the brothers inspect the usable wood from the house, they pack up and head back to their Watkinsville workshop.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

The Sons of Sawdust maintain their ritual of using their grandfather’s tools on every piece of work they create. Removing nails from reclaimed wood is often a tedious process, but if nails are nicked when sawing a piece of wood, the saw blades will slowly become dulled and possibly broken or chipped.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

Continuing the Hobbs brothers’ familial ritual, Matt uses his grandfather’s old saw to cut off the rotted end of a two-by-four board. “We cut the first piece of every table we make with that saw,” Ben says.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

After sanding down the pieces for the table, keeping the integrity of the saw marks and woodgrain, Matt glues biscuit joints into the slits of two-by-fours to connect the table. Using biscuit joints and wood glue is one option for assembling a table, with the joint and glue hardening to the durability of wood itself, making it a sturdy connecting piece for a table. Exact measurements are required, and Matt must measure and accurately saw slits into each piece of wood before joining the planks together. After joining the table planks, Matt clamps the table together for almost 24 hours.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

Beginning the second day of working on the table, Ben measures the dimensions before sawing the table to the desired shape on Feb. 24. Precision being a cornerstone of the brothers’ industry, Ben takes his time to measure accurately for his necessary cuts and to visualize the design.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

Switching back to work on the table, Matt (left), uses a power planer to smooth out any parts of the table that stick out, and to accentuate hidden grains naturally brought out from the shaving of the wood. Ben (right) works beside his brother, sanding a shelf for a separate project. Given the increasing demand for the Sons of Sawdust work, the brothers often split apart to work on two projects at a time.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

After sawing the trim for the table, Matt sands the edges to remove dirt and dust hiding the wood’s natural beauty. Instead of sawing the edges for the table, Matt also sands the edges to round them smoothly. The brothers often sand a piece of furniture three to five times during various stages.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

Matt applies varnish to the table. One of the last remaining steps, Matt sands and re-varnishes the table three times before finishing it, letting the varnish dry over multiple nights between sessions.


Photo Credit: Randy Schafer

After four days, the table is complete and ready for delivery on Feb. 27. Matt (left) and Ben (right) harness the table in the bed of their new truck, dubbed “Arnold.”