To Local 400 member Scott Bryant the wood shop is a place of serenity, his own little world where he can unleash his creativity. Flipping on the radio to his favorite rock ‘n roll station, Bryant places the wood on the lathe and begins turning out his next masterpiece.

Just a handful of pens that Scott Bryant has made. He has made over 1,000 pens in a variety of styles and designs. Photo by Karlyn Williams.

Bryant has worked for Kroger for 19 years and has been in the union since 1997. By day he works as lead seafood clerk and by night he spends a few hours in his wood shop practicing his hobby.

Bryant became interested in the craft when his grandfather gave him his first wood lathe in 1997.

However, it wasn’t until 2007 that his hobby really took off thanks to the grand opening of Woodcraft, a wood supply store near his home in Roanoke, Va. The store has rare woods from all over the world for Bryant to choose from including wood from New Zealand that has been buried for over 50,000 years and snake wood from the Amazon that runs about $5,000 for half a log.

“The opening of Woodcraft Supply has really helped me learn more about wood turning not only as a skill but as an art form,” said Bryant. “I’ve never taken classes, I just ask the guys at the supply store a lot of questions, after that I just hope for the best.”

The first wood piece Bryant ever made was a little mahogany bowl, which took a few hours—and most importantly, didn’t involve any injuries.

Dyed quilted maple and pink ivory Christmas ornament. Photo courtesy of Scott Bryant.

“People don’t realize how dangerous wood turning can be,” said Bryant. “In the beginning I was sanding a bowl that had a thin rim and my hand slipped cutting my thumb pretty deep.”

Bryant also makes wine stoppers, Christmas ornaments, vases, bowls, lidded boxes, urns, pens; the options are endless.

“My favorite thing about woodturning is there no ‘cannots’,” said Bryant. “I can make anything that you could possibly think of or want.”

His word of mouth marketing is strong; most of his woodturning customers also shop at his Kroger store. They learned about his hobby over the years and come to him looking for unique gifts for holidays or graduations. Local 400 purchased one of Bryant’s custom-made pens as a gift for Chef Jeff Henderson, star of The Chef Jeff Project on the Food Network, who was the guest speaker at the Giant and Safeway steward seminar held on January 5.

Currently, Bryant is helping out at the wood supply store by making the displays for the new pen kits that will soon stock the shelves. In addition, he will participate for the second time in the Memorial Day Woodturning for the Troops event where wood turners gather at the wood supply shop to create pens that will then be sent directly to veterans of the Iraq War.