Jay Bates is somebody that I consider to be a prominent figurehead in the online woodworking community. I’m not sure what brought it about, but for some reason I was reading articles on tiny homes and I actually came across his brother’s YouTube channel before I started watching Jay’s stuff. His brother is documenting his process of building a tiny home in an 18′ trailer. After following one link or another I started getting deeper and deeper into Jay’s site and all of his projects and videos and techniques. And ultimately, it was reading his articles and watching his videos that really motivated me to get this site started.
Jay’s evolution to an all-in DIY’er is quite an interesting story. He gained a vast amount of his home repair knowledge through working and building with his great uncle, and working as a maintenance man for an apartment complex. While working with his great uncle helped him to build a lot of the underlying knowledge on building a foundation, framing, electrical work, plumbing, interior layouts, finishing, roofing, and more, it seems that an opportunity provided during his work as a maintenance man is where he really started to develop his own sense of design and technique. He started to develop his shop and some of the jigs that he still uses in his build videos in storage unit that he cleaned out at the apartment complex he maintained. Where as some builders have a large pole barn, or a space setup for a dedicated shop to work in, Jay had a three bedroom apartment that he developed. And while some might consider this quite odd, it was in these ‘odd’ settings that you really start to think about using space efficiently and planning ahead for any potential hurdles in the build process.
Looking at Jay’s early projects, and watching most of his videos, you can tell that his specialty is working with standard lumber that you’d get from a big box store. And I think it’s this focus that has really helped the number of his followers to snowball. He doesn’t typically use expensive or exotic lumber; he uses pine and construction grade materials. Often times, the sheer cost of materials can be intimidating for DIY’ers, but if you lessen the cost of making a mistake and having to buy more material, that fear and intimidation level drops off and you can continue the learning process of the project itself. In addition to using easily accessible materials, Jay also incorporates very simple joinery work into his projects. He’ll frequently use simple pocket hole screws and wood glue. I’ve recently come to start working with a pocket hole jig and screws myself, and can attest to how easy it is to use. So through incorporating these two affordable and effortless components into most of his builds, Jay has really established a connection with the online woodworker and DIY community.
Expansion and Growth
In addition to furniture builds such as blanket chests and farm tables, Jay also has several videos and project plans to help DIY’ers improve their shop. One of the biggest projects that he’s completed is a 14ft miter saw station with a ton of storage space. For any serious woodworker, a project like this is almost a must. Jay spent a ton of time planning this out so as to maximize the utility of the drawers and the storage space to fit his garage / woodshop. In addition, he’s also shared several links to other builder’s sites who have taken his plans and modified them to fit their own shop space. It’s this kind of sharing and highlighting that can really help to motivate others to take on projects like this, as well as spur their creative side to think about what sort of changes they might like to make to personalize the project for their own needs.
Not all of Jay’s shop projects are as mammoth as his miter saw station though. He also has several plans available to download that are very simple jigs and assemblies. These can often be made of scrap and can greatly improve the speed and efficiency of other build projects. I can attest that his simple miter jig for the table saw can be built of some scrap plywood, and is very useful when trying to miter corners for trim work or other mitered projects.
As Jay has mentioned in several of his posts, vlogs, blogs, and more, his biggest motivation in moving from doing woodworking and content creation as a hobby to a full time profession is the desire to learn, work with his hands, and interact with those similar to him online. It is very rewarding to work with and hear from people on YouTube and the other social media outlets. Their feedback and compliments are really what drive content creators to keep doing what they do.