Custom chess board created by woodworker in woodwork workshop with Forest 2 Home premium hardwood lumber Hard Maple wood and Walnut hardwood.

From Slingshot to Woodshop: Gonzalo's Life of Creativity

Gonzalo Hernandez is an incredible member of the Forest 2 Home woodworking community. We first came across his Instagram page as he began to share his #BuiltWithF2H projects and have loved seeing his work ever since. Forest 2 Home has featured Gonzalo's work several times-from his benches to his flower planters and everything in between! We were curious to learn more about his woodworking journey and share it with the Forest 2 Home woodworking community. This is what Gonzalo shared with us: 

Gonzalo’s start with woodworking

I didn’t start woodworking, on a serious level, until I was about 20-years-old. However, growing up my dad was a hardcore DIYer. I remember helping him build all kind of things; from cars to houses to water heaters. Basically, any time he needed anything he would find out how it worked and what it needed to function and me and my brothers would help him build it, pre-YouTube. This helped when I began woodworking.

The first woodworking project I remember building was a slingshot when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My dad took us on hike and showed us which tree we needed the branch from, then showed us how to shape and sand the branch. We used a tree we call Huisache (Acacia farnesiana) in Mexico. I used a butcher knife and sandpaper to shape my slingshot and I was very proud of that slingshot-even though the rubber snapped on me and smacked me in the face! One day, I would love to pass down my woodworking knowledge to my future kids; growing up in a DIY family helped to facilitate my own start.

Tree from woodworker

Woodworking training

I have always been an artistic person, so using my hands to build and create comes naturally. In middle school I took 2-years of ceramics which helped me become more in-tune with working with my hands. I would say that I didn’t have any formal training, though I will contradict myself and say that YouTube has so much information on every subject that you can basically almost get formal training there. Obviously not hands on-which is super crucial for woodworking-but I got most of my knowledge through YouTube and other sites-woodworking blogs and woodworking Instagram pages. The hands on experience came from my childhood, working with concrete, metal and other materials. 

Custom made chess set made from Hard Maple wood and Walnut wood by woodworker

Biggest woodworking inspiration

This might sound cliché, but my biggest inspiration in Ron Swanson (a character played by Nick Offerman on the television show, Parks and Recreation. Nick Offerman is also a woodworker in real life but on the show, he plays an all-American, wanting to “live off the grid” individual who is director of the Parks and Recreation department, as well as a woodworker). As far as real people, I have a few people I look up to. Tyler Kirby from Kirby Furniture makes some amazing pieces. Additionally, Chris Salomone-from Four Eyes Furniture-creates amazing furniture. 

Gonzalo’s woodworking projects

Renovation project inspiration

My favorite project I made was a pergola that I created for my old house. We really wanted to improve the backyard but found out pergolas are expensive. So, we decided to build our own! It was so satisfying seeing the project come together-just take a look at the before and after pictures. 

Before photo of DIY home renovation pergola project

Pergola home renovation, home DIY, outdoor woodworking project

Least favorite woodworking project

Once, I built a shelving unit out of construction lumber that ended up being my least favorite project. I made all the cuts and basically just needed to glue it together but I couldn’t go in the shop for about a week and when I finally had the chance to, the wood warped a lot. I was building it for a relative and was working with a budget so I couldn’t buy more wood. I ended up somewhat fixing it and made it work though the experience taught me not to use cheap wood and to always allow for some wiggle room in the budget. Sometimes cheap ends up costing much more.

Favorite small scale workshop project

One of my favorite projects I’ve made is a bench made from Forest 2 Home White Oak and Red Oak. Right now, I’m really into White Oak. I think it’s such a beautiful wood-the endgrain being my favorite part though I didn’t feature that in this project. Building this project challenged me to do intricate joinery I had never done before. Seeing the result was incredibly rewarding so I learned a lot and ended up really enjoying it.

Forest 2 Home premium hardwood lumber Red Oak wood and White Oak wood featuring custom joinery done by expert woodworker on woodworking project wooden bench

Forest 2 Home premium hardwood lumber Red Oak wood and White Oak wood featuring custom joinery done by expert woodworker on woodworking project wooden bench

Becoming a professional woodworker

I like to think of myself as a hobbyist transitioning to semi-pro. I’m trying to gain new skills and work towards doing woodworking full time. For those wanting to start woodworking, don’t be afraid to do so, even if you have no skills yet! We were all there once. However, only do things you feel comfortable doing. Don’t endanger yourself trying to force yourself to learn a new skill. A mistake I made was not reaching out to the woodworking community even though it is so accessible nowadays (through social media). Talk to other woodworkers, find out if they are close to you and keep a line of communication open. Having connections like this will help you learn new skills and possibly lead to future collaborations. 

Top workshop tools

My top tools I use the most and I value the most are my router, table saw and a rafter square. You can make tons of projects with these tools, without the addition of any other tools.

The biggest workshop mistake you can make as a new woodworker

Never forget to measure-not measuring enough is the biggest woodworking mistake you can make. While it might sound excessive, I usually measure about 5 times and sometimes even more. Measure 5 times, cut once. Another big workshop mistake I made was not learning how to properly use and maintain my tools. A dull blade is far more dangerous than a sharp one and that is not something you want to learn about the hard way! A final mistake you make is rushing through a project-never rush a project. Rushing is not only dangerous, but you likely won’t get optimal results.

Who is Gonzalo Hernandez?

Besides woodworking Gonzalo really enjoy long walks in the beach…just kidding. Truly, his passion lies in creating-whether it be woodworking, drawing or cooking-just having the opportunity to use his creativity as much as possible. His full time job in the restaurant business allows for this; not only does he spend his days being in charge of the restaurant but he can access his creativity by creating specialty cocktails that are featured on a monthly basis.

Gonzalo says, “I find that woodworking and my other hobbies have helped my mental health a lot. I am also super interested in architecture, which is something I want so pursue. I want my life to revolve around creating. What better thing to do then woodworking.”

You can find more of Gonzalo’s woodworking project on his Instagram page @a_mano_woodworking.

Potted plant pot, custom planter, garden planter made from White Oak wood, Cherry wood and Walnut wood by woodworker in woodwork shop

We would love to hear about your start with woodworking! Send an email to detailing your woodworking journey and we will feature you and your shop on the blog! Don't forget to use hashtag #BuiltWithF2H on your Forest 2 Home project photos so we can see and share your work. Happy Woodworking! 

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