Speed Reads

sustainability

Artisan brings new life to wood damaged by fire and drought

Rachel Swigart takes wood from the Sierra Nevada range that has been damaged by drought, fire, and insects and turns it into something beautiful.

The Northern California resident is a third-generation woodworker. Her father and grandfather are cabinet makers, and she told ABC 7 that growing up, she didn't think woodworking "could be a thing for me. But now having two daughters, I wanted to have something to create side income and to be able to put my own twist on it."

She launched her own company called Wood Chipped, and takes a sustainable approach, finding wood that others would toss and turning it into something special. Swigart fills custom orders, and has created everything from mirrors to spice racks to cutting boards. She does full inspections of each piece of wood to determine its quality — for example, if it's bowed, she can't use it for something that needs to be square, like a shelf. Using damaged wood "prevents wasting, but it takes a bit more time and being strategic," she said.

Since starting Wood Chipped, Swigart said she has discovered there are "so many women carpenters and woodworkers. Being a mom raising two daughters, I want them to know they can do anything."