When local cabinetmaker Jack Manchester stayed late in his wood shop one night last December, he only intended to craft a few homemade holiday gifts—yet he wound up sparking a new business venture for himself and his fiancée, Thea Anderson. Inspired by his own love of cooking and entertaining, the Park Circle resident fashioned two cutting boards from locally milled oak and maple. He brought his creations home to Anderson, who was floored by their quality. “They were so heavy and just naturally gorgeous,” she says. “We gave them to our parents, and they were amazed.”
Anderson had a hunch her husband-to-be was onto something big. With her encouragement, he built up inventory, turning out more walnut, maple, oak, and cherry boards made from just three simple materials: wood sourced from an Awendaw mill, locally produced beeswax, and mineral oil. Manchester even upped the design ante, experimenting with handles and using contrasting woods to create checks and stripes. With product piling up, the couple went into business.
“He was coming home with new boards every night,” Anderson says. “I’d give him a hug, and then we’d both be covered in sawdust.”
The duo dubbed their fledgling company Sawdust Wood Co. and mobilized creative friends to help with branding and packaging. (Local designer Krista Engler created the logo; Allison and Daniel Nadeau of Park Circle-based letterpress outfit Ink Meets Paper made product tags.) The biz debuted in March with a pop-up shop at the Mixson Barn. More than 40 boards sold that afternoon, and Fast & French co-owner Jennifer Bremer commissioned a run of custom pieces emblazoned with her eatery’s logo. Today, the company’s products are available at Fast & French and Mixson Market, with prices ranging from $50 to $215.
Aside from their retail offerings, Sawdust Wood Co. has other projects on the horizon: they’re building a pour-over coffee station for Mixson Market and custom wood counters for bahn-mi food truck Auto-bahn. They’re learning beekeeping with plans to produce their own beeswax. And they hope to eventually introduce a full line of wooden kitchen gadgets, including spoons, mallets, and rolling pins. But for now, their primary focus is meeting the rising demand for their boards. “We love doing this, so hopefully the business will continue to grow,” Anderson says