Small Businesses, Big Results: Burled & Knotted Community Woodworking Shop

by Ryan Miller

By Jamie McAllister

Owner: Jeremy Knight
Founded: 2016
Location: 11861 Canon Blvd., Unit G, Newport News
Number of Employees: 1 

Jeremy Knight’s passion for woodworking was handed down to him by his grandfather, a NASA engineer and skilled craftsman. The two spent many hours together in the workshop, working side by side on projects. Last fall, after working for years as a graphic artist for a government contractor, Knight opened the Burled & Knotted Community Woodworking Shop. Now others can work on projects alongside Knight in this one-of-a-kind community space.

“I got the idea for the shop while I was working on a project at home,” says Knight, a Newport News native. “I needed more tools, but my garage was full.” Knight had seen community workshops popping up along the West Coast, and he wanted to be the first to bring that vision to Coastal Virginia. “I didn’t want to drive down the street and see someone else had done it before me,” he says.

With financial backing from family along with his personal savings, Knight rented space on the edges of Oyster Point in Newport News. The shop is 1,800 square feet, with a small showroom to display items members have made. An open floorplan helps with the workflow. Mats at each machine provide cushioning for members’ legs and backs. So far, the most popular tools are the 20-inch planer and the table saw, machines people can’t easily fit into their home workshop or garage.

The shop’s location just outside of Oyster Point is perfect for Knight. “It’s the best space I could be in,” he says. “The shop is surrounded by apartments, which means there are lots of people who don’t have the space they need for a home workshop.”

In addition to apartment dwellers, Knight also wants to reach the military crowd. “Many of the shops on local bases have shut down, which leaves the military members without a place to practice their craft,” he says.

Burled & Knotted currently has around half a dozen members. Every new member must attend a class on safety and learn how to use all the tools. Novice woodworkers can breathe easy knowing they won’t have to figure out their projects alone. “I’m here for the members,” says Knight. “I love seeing other people’s ideas. There’s always something different.”

Opening the woodshop has given Knight more freedom, and it has also allowed him to share his passion with others. “When I worked as a graphic artist I built programs and created designs all the time, but they weren’t often things people got to see and enjoy,” he says. “With woodworking, people are always enthusiastic about seeing what I make. It’s the appreciation factor. I am able to create tangible stuff that people can touch and use.”

Photo by Jim Pile

Right now, Knight is the only staff member. Occasionally members volunteer to pitch in and help with the shop, but Knight must handle every aspect of the business himself, from accounting to marketing. “The business side is all new for me,” says Knight. The hardest part so far has been getting the word out about the shop. He has advertised on Craigslist and Facebook and takes part in craft shows to help spread the word.

Knight encourages other entrepreneurs to focus on their dreams. “If you want to start a business, get prepared,” he says. “It’s a lot of work. I never thought it would be easy, but I had no idea it would be this hard. Don’t be discouraged, though. Be yourself, and don’t let anyone deter your plans. This is your dream, no one else’s.”

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