When Jon Peters first started woodworking in the 80s, he never dreamed he’d be teaching over 600,000 people to build furniture years later.
Peters did a work-study program in high school, where after a half day of classes, he’d head over to “The Woodworker” woodshop and learn how to make high-quality furniture.
“My boss quickly noticed I had a natural aptitude for woodworking, taking to it easily within the first two to three weeks of working there.”
He continued to work there on and off for the next four years while attending art school, honing his skills across a variety of mediums.
Above: Peters in a thumbnail for his YouTube channel | Article by Leah Kossak, TotalBoat Social Media Specialist
Woodworking took a backseat when Peters and his wife opened their own art gallery, with pieces ranging from $5 to $50,000. Peters would often end up bringing the large pieces to clients’ homes, which ended up being a hassle. So he came up with a digital installation solution.
Above: One of the openings at Peters’ art gallery
He would take key measurements and photographs of the client’s home, then use Photoshop to place the pieces so they could see what it would look like. As an artist himself, he ended up using his own pieces when others’ wouldn’t fit.
Above: One of Peters’ paintings, Pacific Coast Interior, 2005 Acrylic 6′ x 12′
“I always like to get as much input from a client as possible, and the ‘digital installation’ allowed clients to have more control over what they were looking at purchasing.”
During the 19 years the art gallery has been open, Peters has continued using his woodworking skills to build hundres of frames for stretched canvases.
Above: A picture frame Peters made to frame a picture of a hammer he made
While driving through the countryside shortly after buying an older home, Peters stumbled across old table legs and became inspired to build his own dining room table. He recorded the process and posted it to YouTube so his brother-in-law could see. What he didn’t expect was that others would see it and give good feedback.
Above: Peters’ daughter, Olivia, standing in front of a farmhouse table he built
Instead of having 15 people, on a good day, walk through his brick and mortar space to view his work, his videos were quickly gaining hundreds – then thousands, of views.
“I saw the writing on the wall and became immediately hooked into creating content.”
Around 2015, YouTube became Peters’ main focus after getting a few good sponsors. He had always been influenced by This Old House, his dream job being Norm’s, and was thrilled to be teaching so many novice woodworkers.
After seeing TotalBoat Ambassador, Jimmy Diresta, use TotalBoat products, Peters decided to give our varnishes a try. Upon seeing how well they held up and experiencing our customer service, he was happy to become an ambassador.
“Any technical question I have, I can just send over a DM and get the right feedback on which product will work for the project I’m working on.”
Above, Top-Bottom: Peters pouring TotalBoat Gleam spar varnish onto a table build; the table with a glossy Gleam varnish finish
For outdoor projects, he prefers TotalBoat Gleam 2.0 spar varnish. “It has a strong finish. I’m looking at an outdoor table right now that’s held up for years.”
Above: Peters spraying TotalBoat Halcyon varnish
Above: A table saw air filter cabinet Peters made, coated in Halcyon varnish
He also really enjoys using TotalBoat Halcyon varnish, preferring the clear gloss finish for birch plywood, and the amber finish for white oak, cherry, and walnut. In addition to varnishes, he loves the TotalBoat Thixo 2:1 Epoxy Adhesive system for any glue-ups on furniture builds.
Above: Peters using TotalBoat Thixo Pro for a glue-up
“I really enjoy working with everyone at TotalBoat, and of course the products and support. It’s all about relationships, everyone in the community is laid back, helpful, and polite.”
Peters considers his niche to be making woodworking projects and plans that are easy-to-follow. “It’s easy to forget these basic techniques after so many years of woodworking. I focus on breaking it down and bringing it back to the basics, teaching in a more patient way.”
Above: Peters’ table plans; the finished product he made
Preferring Shaker and mid-century modern designs, Peters simplifies his plans with pocket holes, which can be controversial among other high-end woodworkers. But seasoned woodworkers tend to make their own designs anyway, while Peters focuses on those newly into building furniture.
“I think of something someone will want in their home, not just for a year but for decades, even getting inherited by their kids one day.”
Above: Planters Peters made for his garden, coated with Gleam 2.0 spar varnish
Though Peters wasn’t able to become as involved in the woodworking community in the beginning because he had four young children, he’s now enjoying being a part of it and attending events with his son, Walter.
Above: Peters and his son, Walter, at Maker’s Camp 2021
Even though he graduated with a film degree, Walter pivoted to cabinet making and has started bringing some fresh ideas into his dad’s shop. A newly minted CNC machine has a lot of projects lined up for it. Peters is used to taking a lot of time and patience to create woodblock prints, so the CNC offers a lot more efficiency and open possibilities.
“I taught him how to use a table saw, so it’s only fitting that he teaches me how to work the tech for the CNC.”
Eventually, Peters wants to build a house in Vermont on some land they’ve owned for years. Building from the ground up will be a whole production and he can show off all his woodworking techniques while learning new skills in the process.
Above: Peters’ woodshop, a converted barn in his backyard
For now though, he’ll continue to focus on building plans and furniture for his YouTube channel, and looks forward to attending more events with Walter, like the Catskill Mountain Maker Camp, Oct 7-10, 2022.