He holds a marker in the morning and a lathe at night. Ron Cameron’s woodwork is not like any other. From coffee tables to deck chairs, the rustic charm makes his carvings a little extra special.
Cameron, 45, owns Woodenearth designs and is also a teacher at Nestor Falls School. He adds that his mom is the reason he got into carpentry.
“My mom makes wooden canoes in Atikokan. Fletcher Canoes is what her company’s called,” Cameron said. “Growing up, I always had a lot of the tools in the shop at my disposal and I would make candle holders and signs and then I started making a few pieces of furniture for myself and family friends.”
Cameron, who has had no formal carpentry training, makes a wide range of custom furniture from beds and countertops to coffee tables and canoe paddles.
What once was just a hobby turned into a business for Cameron who credits his expanding business to his partner Jodi, who encouraged him to start making things other than for himself.
“She encouraged me to do it a little bit more seriously and helped me to build my company over the last couple of years,” Cameron said.
Cameron said that Jodi helps with taking photos, furniture design and artistic direction, adding that it helps that she has a fine arts degree.
What sets Cameron apart from other woodworkers is the thick and sturdy wood that he uses for his creations which he sources from a few different places in town. He adds that his pieces showcase the natural beauty of the wood.
Cameron said he is now experimenting with epoxy and creating river tables which have become more popular in the last few years. Cameron said it is fun to work with it because it is so unpredictable.
“Epoxy is clear and then you can get these metallic powders that you mix in with it to add that extra dimension,” Cameron said. “You play a lot with the organic lines of the live edge of the word and that kind of dictates where the epoxy is going to go. It’s a lot of fun creating those kinds of pieces.”
When you go to a furniture store many of the tables have smooth straight sides, but Cameron said he prefers to make coffee tables, dining tables, and countertops with live edge pieces of wood.
“I love working with live edge pieces because of the organic lines of the pieces whether it’s the live edge river table or if I leave the live edge on the outside,” Cameron said. “I love working with epoxy for the same reason because it kind of takes the shape of the edge of the tree. It sort of leaves it to chance.”
Cameron said he has some furniture that people can buy without placing an order such as wine racks and deck chairs but when it comes to coffee tables and beds those are custom items.
“It’s a lot easier to do as a custom job, because then I can take into account all the things that the customers want. And kind of build that into the piece rather than them trying to fit what I’ve made into their décor,” Cameron said.
Having his pieces fit the home instead of the other way around is one reason those orders are custom, but Cameron adds that as a small business it is also expensive to make a table or bed and hope that someone purchases it.
As for the most difficult part of the job, Cameron said it is the finishing.
“The sanding, getting all the swirls out and then making that finish whether it’s a varnish or epoxy, just getting it to be perfectly smooth is the hardest part because it takes so much patience and so much care,” Cameron said.
Based on his designs it is clear that Cameron gets his inspiration from nature, adding that he loves natural colors and edges.
“When I’m making a table or countertop, I take my time and I go out to my woodlot providers and I take the time to choose each piece of lumber for the job,” Cameron said. “I look for grain and for different irregularities that will pop out when they throw some stain on them.”
Cameron said he would one day like to make Woodenearth designs his full-time job but for now, he loves being a teacher and juggling his two passions has not been a problem.
“I’ve got weekends and after school and people understand that I’m a teacher as well,” Cameron said. “They know that sometimes you have to wait a little bit.”
Cameron said he has a few orders lined up right now that will take him into the fall, and he will be experimenting more with river tables.