From Professional Stunt Driver to Wood Artisan
Jimmy Riggsbee has only been selling his wood creations for a short time, but he already has to plan his work time carefully so he has enough product to satisfy demand.
Jimmy, whose career has taken him from IT to a nine-year stint as a professional stunt driver at Disney, is now a stay-at-home dad to three daughters and self taught wood artisan.
“It was really just a hobby at first,” Jimmy says. “I made some corn hole boards for friends and worked with my cousin to make some craft beer boxes.” Gradually, his little by little learning path led him to full-on wood artistry.
Today, Jimmy has founded Rustic Palm and creates and sells handcrafted décor, furnishings, games, signs and more. Most of his pieces are made with salvaged, reclaimed and re-purposed wood.
His passion for both his family and his wood artistry are clear the second you meet him. I had the chance to visit Jimmy at his home and shop in Riverview and learned just how he went from technology to showbiz to artisan.
Details, details, details
“I’ve probably saved over 1000 pins on Pinterest,” Jimmy explains. “I study the pictures and take inspiration. Maybe I’ll see a tiny detail on one pin that I want to combine with something I’ve seen somewhere else. It’s how my designs come together.”
Jimmy first sketches his designs then starts building them. Along the way, he’s experimented and developed processes and systems to make his craft more efficient and to give final products more consistency.
His American flag signs, for example, require intricate detail to get everything just right and to proper scale. He’s developed a stencil he can use so each final flag sign is of the same high quality and details.
Finding ways to distress the raw wood has become another mission. For his Fall pumpkins Jimmy’s developed a four round approach using vinegar and steel wool to give the raw wood just the right patina.
No project is too small, either, to integrate details. Jimmy’s checker board set pieces are proof. Several pieces in each set are routed out, filled with epoxy resin, and given the crown details you see below.
Using Every Last Bit
Jimmy gets his wood from a variety of sources. He regularly helps a neighbor who installs ADA compliant pool lifts. The equipment is delivered on pallets which would normally be discarded, but Jimmy uses every last inch of them.
His father, who lives in Texas, visits regularly. Jimmy’s hoping he can bring dismantled barn wood on one of his visits.
“I try to use every bit of wood I get my hands on,” Jimmy says. “I usually keep everything, including scraps, for at least six weeks. If I haven’t used the scraps by then my family and I enjoy a nice bonfire. It helps keep the garage clean, too.”
Jimmy has turned a corner of his backyard into his woodworking shop. The lanai? A wood preparation and painting station. The garage? Storage.
“One day I hope to have a warehouse or large shop,” Jimmy says. “My dad has this incredibly large workshop in Texas. I’m a little jealous, but for now this all works just fine.”
Releasing the Inner Artist
As Jimmy’s hobby has grown into a business, his inner artist has come to the surface, too. Along the way, he’s taught himself graphic design and how to use graphic design software. He’s gotten creative with the Cricut Vinyl Printer, creating his own designs to use on his products.
He’s made a bunch of templates and tools, an art to itself, which he uses when crafting his final products.
Going forward Jimmy hopes to grow into a CNC laser cutting machine, which will enable to him to create even more intricate wood designs and to carve designs into wood.
As for designs, he has no shortage of ideas. “I have at least 30 ideas I know people will like and will sell, but I am sticking to what I can handle right now. When it’s time to scale up, I am ready,” Jimmy says.
He will also get into creating larger furniture pieces.
Jimmy currently sells Rustic Palm products at local artisan markets, including MiraBay Market (November 20 and December 18) and Jen’s Market (Nov. 13 and December 11).
Below is a brief portfolio of his work. For more, visit his website, Instagram and Facebook (details below).
Contact / Purchase
MiraBay Market: November 20, December 18
Jen’s Market at the Y: Which dates?
Other markets / events?