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our last doug fir table

How many of the woodworkers reading this got their start using pine or doug fir? For a long time, I didn’t really think that there was more than that. I had no plan of switching to hardwood in the beginning. I think I was so focused on learning the how-to that I wasn’t thinking too far ahead in terms of materials. But, as time went on and we grew, switching to hardwood suddenly became part of the plan.

We built our last Doug Fir table back in March of ‘21. Brandon was, without a doubt, the driving force behind the decision to make the switch to hardwood. I had been building farmhouse tables on and off for five years at that point and so I was very much in it. Brandon was a bit newer to woodworking, he had a fresh perspective and he’s always the one to think outside the box.

That’s one of the many things I love and admire about Brandon. He’s incredibly open-minded and creative. His wheels are always turning and his ideas are big and brilliant. Thinking back, that’s always sort of been Brandon’s role. From the very beginning, he treated Path as just as much of a business as it is now - without any of the work, without any of the experience. He took the idea and ran with it.

Once we decided we wanted to switch to hardwood, we had to figure out how to transition on the business side of things. Up until that point, we had been using Doug Fir. The entire gallery on our website was Doug Fir tables. How do we sell a product we never made before? Not to mention, the material cost for hardwood was quite a jump from Doug Fir, we’re talking 4-5 times the price per board foot. How do we convince people that they want a hardwood table and not a Doug Fir table, when Doug Fir is all they’ve seen from us and it’s the less expensive option?

First, we had to figure out what hardwood we wanted to use. We did some research, visited a local lumber yard and decided to give Ash a try. Ash is a beautiful and durable hardwood, similar to Oak visually but more cost-effective. We bought up enough Ash to make a table and a pair of trestles, and when we got back to the shop, that’s exactly what we did. We made stain samples from the scrap to see what the colors looked like and to have something to show future customers.

We had a handful of tentative orders, and what we decided to do was have each person come by the shop to see the new Ash table we just built. We had our last Doug Fir table sitting on one work table and this new, freshly sanded hardwood table mocked up in the center of the room. We were able to point out the differences between the two, talk about the advantages of hardwood vs. softwood, and, at the end

of it all, all five of the couples who came to the shop ended up placing orders for Ash tables. It felt like a coming of age, in a way. Like we graduated or something.

From that point on, we worked exclusively with hardwood which prompted us to refine our skills, workflow and designs even more.

As time went on, we did encounter a handful of potential customers who loved our hardwood tables, but couldn’t quite swing it at the time. Often enough, people had just moved into a new build or were renovating the home they currently lived in. We, more than most, understand the upfront costs associated with projects like that and how quickly costs can rack up. So Brandon, again, came up with a great idea - to partner with Affirm and offer payment plans on our website. This way, our customers can order the table they want and have it built and delivered in just a few weeks, but they can spread their payments out for 6, 12, 18 months at a time.

It was a great idea and something that’s been important to us from the beginning - accessible pricing. We love what we do and we take so much pride in our work. We’ve built every piece of furniture in our house besides our couch and we love it so much because it’s beautiful and functional. It makes being in the space that much better because not only are these things tailored to us visually, but practically too. It makes things like putting the groceries away that much more enjoyable because all of our drawers are soft-close and they’re just wide enough to fit my box of tea. We strive for everything we make to be thoughtfully designed and efficiently executed, and we want to share our work with as many people as possible. And so, if there’s anything we can do on our end to make that happen, we will.

When I sat down to do this video, I thought it was just going to be about our last Doug Fir table, but the more I get into it and the more I revisit that time and so many times like it, I realize how much this story is about Brandon.

I can think back to so many pivotal moments in Path’s history - finding the studio in the first place, putting everything on wheels to make moving around the studio more efficient, blender, getting into the world of 3D rendering so we can show potential customers what we plan to build before we build it - and if I trace it back, so often Brandon is at the root of it. I love the way he thinks, I love his spontaneity, I love his ambition. If it weren’t for Brandon, chances are I’d still be drawing on tables in my parents’ basement. So much of Path’s success is owed to him and I am so grateful I get to call myself his partner.


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