This woodworker is creating pieces from trees devastated by drought and wildfires

ByTim Sarquis Localish logo
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Woodworker creates pieces from trees devastated by drought
Rachel, a third generation woodworker, is hoping to make a difference and to set a good example for her daughters.

As you drive along any road in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range, an all too common sight. Dead, brown trees. A byproduct of California's extensive drought, though it may look depressing, Rachel Swigart sees an opportunity.

Swigart is a third generation woodworker. Her father is a cabinet maker, as well as her grandfather. In fact he was one of the first in the Oakhurst, CA area, located just south of Yosemite National Park. "I didn't think this could be a thing for me," explains Swigart, "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."

Swigart created her own business called Woodchipped, where she creates custom pieces and furniture from trees that have been devastated by drought, insects and wildfire. The quality of the wood determines what she makes out of it. "If the wood is bowed, I can't use it for something like a shelf that needs to be all square. It prevents wasting, but it takes a bit more time and being strategic."

If anything, Swigart hopes that this sets a good example for her two daughters. "It's neat because getting into this field, I'm discovering so many women carpenters and woodworkers. Being a mom raising two daughters, I want them to know they can do anything."

You can follower her journey and commission projects on her Instagram page.