Bryan Saavedra, 26, is a public adjuster. That’s his day job, anyway.
By night (and on weekends), he’s a woodworker, making spoons, cutting boards, bowls, knives, ashtrays and other items — primarily from exotic imported woods that you rarely see in South Florida — at his home in Homestead.
He got started down this path years ago, when he decided to buy a wood burning kit and make gifts for friends and family rather than buy them. He really started going down the rabbit hole when he got an odd request from his grandmother.
“What got me into this was a medical mannequin’s shoe that my grandmother wanted me to replicate,” Bryan said. “She stumped me with this. One Saturday, I decided to waste a couple of hours to replicate the shoe and it became a disease.”
A self-taught craftsman, Bryan doesn’t have any formal training and never went through any kind of apprenticeship. His routine includes lots of books of woodworking and hours of YouTube videos.
Bryan showcases his work at shows and flea markets whenever he can and shares many of his projects via Instagram, but most of his business springs from casual conversation at bars.
“I’ll just be having a couple of beers and start talking to people,” he said. “They start telling me, ‘I’m a cigar smoker,’ or ‘I have a brewery,’ or ‘I have a beer bar.’ From there it becomes a tap handle order or an ashtray order.”
Most of Bryan’s work happens outside, under a collapsible tent, on two folding plastic tables. Every time he goes to work at his “guerrilla workshop,” the day starts with a couple of hours of lugging heavy equipment out to the deck in his backyard. When I visited on a Saturday afternoon, he’d been at it for hours, working blocks of various kinds of wood into small bowls. Music from a small speaker — mostly rap by acts like Gang Starr — was just barely audible over the humming and scraping of the gouges and sandpaper. He was joined at least this afternoon by Stephanie Hernández, who joked she was “his muse” when I asked whether she was involved in the woodworking.
“I’m not going to say that doing my day job is stressful, because it isn’t. It’s more about getting something like this,” Bryan said, reaching for a block of wood, “some Cypress, and then it becoming a bowl, because you did it. Your nine-to-five is to pay the bills. But when you’re doing something you love, something you’re passionate about, and it can potentially be a business, it’s a whole different ballgame, man.”
You can follow Bryan's brand, The Woodwork Design, on Instagram here.
Nicolás Antonio Jiménez is the founder of DADE. When he's not working on this site, he's the senior editor of Cigar Snob Magazine, an internationally distributed lifestyle magazine.
Nick is also a Miami native, Cuban-American, and graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.