Dawn Weaver’s Amazing Journey from Graphic Designer to Healthcare Worker to Maker of Artisanal Cutting Boards

Dawn Weaver examines a board with epoxy resin details in BARN's Woodwoorking & Small Boatbuilding Studio in December, 2022.
Artisanal cutting board maker and instructor Dawn Weaver examines a board with epoxy resin details in BARN’s Woodworking & Small Boatbuilding Studio in December 2022.

By Jennifer Hemmingsen

Dawn Weaver likes a challenge. Right now, that challenge is making cutting boards that look like nothing you’ve ever seen.

Weaver’s artisanal-quality cutting boards, charcuterie boards, and small tables are instantly recognizable, even as the styles slowly shift with her evolving interests. Her materials are all sustainably sourced from vendors or locally felled trees in the Puget Sound region.

Weaver Brand Woodworks cutting board with epoxy resin detail.
Weaver Woodworks cutting board with epoxy resin detail.

“Everything you do in woodworking is different every single time because no piece of wood is like another,” Weaver says. “Even if you’re making the same item multiple times, it will look different because of the grain of the wood, the colors, the textures, and things like that.”

That’s part of the appeal for her – woodworking is like a puzzle to solve. Each piece is a combination of the woodworker’s vision and the limitations and inclinations of the wood.

Another draw is much more tactile: “You have to physically touch and feel your piece as you’re working on it,” she says.

Weaver Brand Woodworking "bar boards."
Weaver Woodworking “bar boards.”

Her latest challenge is adding color elements with epoxy resin and creating smaller boards she calls “bar boards” – meticulously crafted pieces big enough to slice a lime or mince a clove of garlic. They’re “thicker and chunkier” than your average cutting board; each is a work of art. 

But how she got here is a story in itself.

“I get bored easily,” says the BARN instructor and owner of Weaver Woodworks. “In high school, I was very interested in art, but I didn’t know what kind of career that would lead me to. I just meandered through college, figuring things out.”

Her meandering led to a successful first career as a graphic designer, which she kept interesting for more than two decades by working for different companies (e.g., Disney and Hallmark) and taking on different roles.

“But once we moved out here to the Northwest, my career kind of felt like it was ending,” she said. “And so I made a huge change and went into healthcare.” That second career as a physical therapist assistant lasted a decade. Then, the pandemic stirred up that old restlessness.

“Like many people, I thought a lot about my life and values,” she says. She realized she wanted once again to prioritize creative work. 

Dawn Weaver poses in front of woodworking equipment.
Dawn Weaver poses in the BARN Woodworking & Small Boatbuilding Studio on April 23. Weaver has been making and selling heirloom-quality cutting boards for several years.

Weaver had been working on some projects in BARN’s Woodworking & Small Boatbuilding Studio, but “YouTube University” got her started on cutting boards. She’d come across some cutting board tutorials while researching ways to build custom shelving for her garage.

“And lo and behold, I ended up becoming the cutting board specialist,” she says.

Weaver has been making and selling artisanal cutting boards for three years and regularly teaches two different BARN classes to help others do the same.

“I love my class,” she said. “It’s not just about making the cutting board. It’s about learning the equipment, getting experience, and getting comfortable.”

“One woman came in and said, ‘My dad told me not to chop off a finger.’ We laughed, but she was nervous about the table saw. By the end of class, there was a night-and-day difference. So, I love that part of it. You can do whatever you want.”

As we talked, she showed me different cutting boards she had made—small bar boards, boards with colorful epoxy inserts, and a monster of a board that was almost too big for the table between us. Each one had a story.

“So this next piece is end grain,” she said. “If we take strips of wood like we’re making a cutting board but flip them up on the edge, that’s what the end grain is — it looks like little blocks.”

“The other thing about end grain is that your knife feels much better on this surface. You can cut on any surface you want, but the end grain is like a bundle of straws. It’s basically how wood grows; the water comes up through the roots and grains, so the end grain is self-healing. 

“Of course, you will see knife marks if you chop on this every single day. But that’s okay. It’s what it’s for.” 

Find Dawn at these upcoming events:

Poulsbo Makers Faire- June 28-30
BIMA Summer Market – July 7, 21 and 28
BI Studio Tour August 9-11

Or on Instagram: @Weaver_Woodworks and Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/weaverbrandwoodworks/

Jenn Hemmingsen is a writer, mom, and dabbler in many creative pursuits. She’s the Marketing Communications Coordinator at BARN. Contact her at jennh@bainbridgebarn.org.

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