Camano woodworker’s cut out well for whimsy

Adam Hughes was the kind of kid who always carried a Sharpie pen. His fiance, Gretchen Weimer, who met him in third grade, said Hughes toted a sketch pad in his backpack for quick doodles.

His talent went on the back burner when Hughes left Stanwood High School and moved to Montana. He married, divorced, then returned to Camano Island with his two children and three goals: to find the girl of his dreams, buy a house and start his own business.

He found the right woman, he said, bought five acres and started Juggernaut Woodworking for custom designs.

His visions are taking shape. Hughes, 30, makes fanciful furniture and sided the couple’s home in a wave of cedar shakes.

He doesn’t let “plumb” get in the way of whimsy.

“When he started making tables, it really seemed like the crazy characters of the art he used to draw finally found their proper medium,” Weimer said. “When he shingled the house, I really wanted to go at it with him, but when he started, I was like ‘You are in your own world and there is no way I can step into that.’ “

Their house turned out amazing, she added.

The house is next door to his shop, a woodworker’s delight, where he fashions living room tables that wouldn’t blend in just any home. A buyer needs to appreciate handmade endeavors, savor one-of-a-kind creations, and be prepared to explain your table, in glowing terms, to all who admire the clever design.

Weimer, 28, said creations flow from the imagination of her fiance, the most amazing, independent, artistic and hilarious man she ever met. She is a manager at Sno-Isle Natural Foods Co-op in Everett, where Hughes is refurbishing checkout stands.

For the co-op job, he is using his trademark — reclaimed wood. The recycler stained a table with used coffee grounds. He crafted it from western maple with walnut dowels, never a screw. He said the legs were a chunk of maple, really bad looking, but when he started sanding, it shined.

For a table with a face on top, he chose special pieces for hair, lips and glasses.

“I wanted them to pop out at the viewer, so I decided to use some African mahogany, with Western maple as a great contrast,” Hughes said. “I drew a rough sketch of how I thought it should go together, where to use different woods, and how I thought they would complement one another.”

Also a rock hound, Hughes said he challenges himself each time he starts making something, thinking about how it will look once the finish is on, the placement of the dowels. Everything must reflect his fanciful style. One unique part of the tables is hidden. Under each top is a pull-out plaque, engraved with his name, so no one will mistake the piece’s creator.

One former art teacher, Paula Rey, who owns a studio in Mukilteo, said she encouraged Hughes.

“I wanted to spur him on to do something in the arts,” Rey said. “Light a little fire there.”

It took more than a decade, but now he’s on course.

“Artists I met through the years inspired me,” Hughes said. “If I just let it happen, and not hold back, it will happen. Life is about doing what will keep you happy and sane.”

Watching his woodworking wheels turn is amazing, Weimer said.

“I’ve always thought Adam has the strangest way of doing things, with the most amazing outcomes,” she said. “We have so many people who just come over and hang out in the shop while he works.”

The things he has in store are going to make my mind explode, she added.

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or oharran@heraldnet.com.

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