Dig Baton Rouge

Out of the Woods

Josh Wascome’s creativity reaches from fashion to furniture

For Josh Wascome, owner of Wascome Woodworks, his love for woodworking goes deeper than the roots of the trees used to make his handmade designs.

“Magnolia, pecan, sweet gum, all have sugars in the wood where you get these interesting patterns,” Wascome said. 

Wascome, 35, sells items at the Red Stick Farmers Market, Mid City Makers Market, and local festivals.  Popular pieces include kitchenware such as bowls, cutting boards, and serving trays.  He also makes fashion accessories including men’s wooden bowties, cufflinks, and tie clasps, as well as furniture and custom orders.    

“I once made a guitar from cypress wood that washed up out of Lake Pontchartrain from Hurricane Katrina.”

Wascome uses logs from all trees and said the wood in Louisiana is highly sought after due to spalting, a process which naturally occurs, causing variations in the wood due to the humid climate. 

“You don’t have to do a lot to promote spalting in Louisiana,” he said.  “If you keep a log off the ground for a year or leave it during the summer you can see the amount of change the wood goes through.”

   Most of his designs are from salvaged wood. “I’m not big on cutting down a tree that is perfectly fine,” he said.  “There are plenty of trees that are falling down.”

Wascome experienced a setback when The Great Flood of 2016 destroyed much of his inventory. 

“I lost about ten to twelve trees worth of lumber,” he said. Despite the disaster, Wascome persevered, and replenished his wood stacks.    

He wholesales to stores on consignment, recently creating wood arrangements for BIN 77, a local bistro and side bar. And as part of a project with the Red Stick Salvage Artists’, creatives who use salvaged material to make art, Wascome has made wooden cufflinks from a torn down house.  

   

  “I once made a guitar from cypress wood that washed up out of Lake Pontchartrain from Hurricane Katrina,” he said.

Wascome, a Woodlawn High School and LSU general studies alum, gets a large sum of wood from a friend who owns Marathon Tree Service.  He believes Louisiana is the perfect environment for woodworkers.

“Because of our subtropical climate more species of wood grow here,” Wascome said. “In the northern climates trees go down to a handful of species.”

Wascome started working with wood by doing carpentry projects with his father, a contractor. During his last semester in college he became serious about the skill.    

“My dad made things out of wood also, and when he retired he rented a booth at the farmers market and did well,” Wascome said.  “I found myself doing it and really enjoying it.”

Wascome is the ultimate wood crafter, never afraid to experiment. He is versatile enough to create the smallest detailed projects and also turn a large log into a singular piece of art.       

“I’m always looking for a challenge to make things that I haven’t made before,” he said.  “If you throw it at me I can figure out how to make it.  I don’t want any customer to walk away unhappy.”

Photos by Ronni Bourgeois

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