Fernweh Woodworking

Business Information

Owner: Justin Nelson

Name: Fernweh Woodworking

Location: Bend, Oregon

Project description

Business Website: Fernweh Woodworking

Meet Justin Nelson
Before following his dream of owning a successful woodworking business, Justin Nelson worked hard to provide for his family and their future. He graduated Purdue University with a business degree, served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and honorably fought for his country during a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. Since his service, he has also worked on the Hotshot wildfire crew. These many years of experience equipped Justin with the experience and knowledge needed to launch and run a business.

The Art of Creativity
Gifted with a natural eye for design, Justin would spend his spare time working in his workshop. He spent countless hours mastering his passion of woodworking. In between seasonal jobs, Justin seized the opportunity to make a career change and focused on developing his skill and starting his own business. He said, “My creativity starts when I’m holding a block or a board in my hands, feeling the texture and looking at the grain, along with the imperfections. Bringing lasting beauty from the remainders of something as awesome as a tree is what led me to professional woodworking.”

Longing for Beauty
The inspiration for the name, Fernweh Woodworking stems from the German word, Fernweh. He explains, “Fernweh is a German word, meaning to be homesick for somewhere you’ve never been. I loved that idea, and wanted to incorporate that longing for beauty into my business name.”

Family First
During the hard times, Justin looks to his family for support. Fernweh Woodworking was originally funded from Justin Nelson’s wife, Jodi and their savings account. Justin’s wife continues to be his number one support. Jodi recognizes his exceptional woodworking talent and supports his dream. Justin said, “Between my military experience and my time on the Hotshot crew, I haven’t had much time at home in the last few years. Owning this business and working from the studio on our property has offered me a flexible work schedule and much more time with my wife, which has been wonderful! She is such a great support system.”

One of A Kind
When asked what he would do differently about starting his business, Justin expresses,“That’s a hard question, because if I had known some things (like how long it would take to get my first paycheck!) who knows if I would have taken the leap? For a business like mine, you have to take advantage of economies of scale, get some killer photos of the product, and then figure out how to more efficiently produce the product on a slightly larger scale. My products are all still one-of-a-kind in the sense that they are all completely made by hand, but now I have multiple designs that I can recreate multiple times with very stable and consistent wood species like Black Walnut.”

Wood Blocks
Regardless of the start up hiccups, Justin has proven to be a driving force within the industry. His one-of-a-kind designs and leadership skills set him apart from his competitors. Justin’s advice to entrepreneurs, “I seek to be constantly innovating new products, while also seeking more efficient solutions for medium scale wholesale production. This allows me to sell affordable products to more than only the highest-end buyers. It’s a long discovery process and I’m nowhere near the point where I’ll feel like I’ve “made it.” Keep pushing through!”