Fireside Chat: Vik of “The Stump Shop”

Seven years ago, Vik spotted a dead tree stump in a ravine while walking home. While he wasn’t sure why he did it, he had the feeling he could turn it into something amazing. The Stump Shop was born. Now, The Stump Shop (@thestumpshop) has over 60K followers who tune in to watch Vik make beautiful furniture out of reclaimed wood. We got the chance to catch Vik in between projects to learn more about his process, how he involves his family, and what’s driven The Stump Shop’s success.

Who’s Vik? What’s the Stump Shop all about?

I live in a little city in Canada called Newmarket, just north of Toronto. That’s where I run The Stump Shop. It’s a small woodworking business that I operate out of my garage at home. It started out as a hobby about six or seven years ago. I make tables, desks, any kind of furniture out of reclaimed wood . . . like stumps. Due to social media and a passion I developed for making and editing videos based off of woodworking, the Stump Shop has grown into something more than a garage hobby.

Did you ever think you’d have a social media woodworking empire on your hands?

Well, we’ll use the word “empire” loosely (laughs). But, no, I didn’t. When I dragged home that first dirty, wet stump out of a ravine and left it in my garage, I didn’t exactly know what to do with it. But, I knew I could try and make something out of it. I didn’t have any woodworking experience prior, so I started to read books on woodworking and invested in the tools I needed. It eventually became an awesome looking piece. Woodworking, for me, has gone from an interest to a passion.

📸 @thestumpshop

Did The Stump Shop’s growth have something to with woodworking becoming a passion for you?

Most definitely. I can answer that quite easily. I assume that when anyone is able to take their hobby and share that with others, either through Instagram or Youtube, it just makes that hobby that much more fun. You become part of a community of like-minded people. At the press of a button, you’re sharing photos with people who have the same passion for something as you do. There’s another side to it, though. With the growth of The Stump Shop, I’m able to reach out to my community and get advice or opinions on the projects I’m working on. It’s like when you can choose your own chapter in a book. I can poll the community on how I should finish a piece.  I did this last week with a table I was working on, for instance. I asked my followers, “Should I finish this desk with a white wash finish or a brown stain?” They responded by saying the table would actually look best with a clear finish. So, I went with that. The table ended up looking amazing. The fact that the community can participate in the process motivates me to continue developing my woodworking skills and the content I create.

What does The Stump Shop mean to you, your family, and your community?

I think the common ground is that there is only one guy behind The Stump Shop. I hear this from my followers and my buddies that, yes, there’s a group of my followers that are there to see the woodworking. They like to see the woodworking process and how I tackle a project. But there’s also a group that couldn’t care less about the woodworking. They just want to see regular ol’ Vik who’s a dad. They want to know what I’m cooking for dinner, or what I’m doing with my kids that day.

For me, my work for The Stump Shop has become a way of escape, a stress-relief. I go out there to the shop at the end of the day, even if I’m not working on a project, and just be there. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit how many times I’ll go out there, look at my tools, pick my next project, and just be out there for twenty or thirty minutes.

Do you think The Stump Shop has inspired any novice woodworkers?

The only reason I say “yes,” is because people send me, almost daily, pictures of the projects they’ve worked on. My favorite interactions have come from others from a different country. Maybe their message will have only a few words in English, but it’s clear from the pictures they sent that they were inspired by my work in some way. It’s awesome. That just gives me even more motivation to keep working.

You’re a self-taught woodworker? How did you learn woodworking?

I was self-taught, yes. I didn’t pay attention in shop class in, I think, grade six. It didn’t interest me at all at the time. My dad was very hands-on raising me, but he wasn’t into woodworking. It wasn’t until I saw that one stump in a ravine. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what got me to drag that stump home. As I mentioned earlier, once I started woodworking and sharing them on social media, I started working on my craft. I read books and magazines about woodworking, and research online. When it becomes something you’re interested in and it’s not work, it’s just fun.

You have a podcast now? What’s that journey been like?

Because of Instagram and woodworking, I met two of my best friends to this date. I remember messaging Dom, who’s one of those best friends I mentioned, and said, “Hey! We make similar stuff.” BOOM! From then on, we just started chatting and making stuff together. Those conversations led to a trip to Atlanta a few years ago for a conference. On the way back home, we just started talking. What if we got together and educated our followers about growing their social media? We’re actually going to record later tonight. I’m excited for it!

Where do Solo Stove and The Stump Shop meet?

I love campfires. I love sitting around campfires. I grew up sitting around them. I remember seeing another influencer’s post with a Solo Stove. I messaged them, like “What is that?”. They sent me a link and I was hooked ever since. I bought the Bonfire and set it up in my backyard. The Solo Stove is obviously a beautiful way to have a fire. But, having Bonfire is a necessity for me. I go through so many wood scraps in the shop. I could take them to the dump, but just having a nice fire from burning them is a nice experience. I’ll sit out with the family and roast marshmallows. Now, with the weather getting chillier this Fall, it’s gonna be beautiful for evening fires.

What do you like to do when you’re hanging out with your family? What types of memories are you creating?

My daughter LOVES s’mores. In Canada, July 1st is Canada Day. It’s like July 4th for you guys, so it’s a big deal, you know. It’s the birthday of your country. We had some friends over who have two kids. I set up the Bonfire and lit the fire. My friends were like, “That’s such a cool fire pit!”. We made s’mores for all the kids . . . and the adults (laughs) before watching the fireworks. That made a lasting memory, because my kids still talk about wanting to have “the fire and the fireworks” (laughs). I think memories like that are made when you use a Solo Stove!

Does your family like to help out in the shop?

I’ve said before that the best days in the shop are when my kids are there. I think around the world a lot of parents are experiencing their kids being more a home right now. At first, it hindered my work, but I looked at it as the perfect chance to spend more time with my kids. It’s just the best when you give them a task, give them the tools they need, and teach them something you are passionate about. Obviously, safety is number one. I don’t give them one of my power tools (laughs). But those are some of the best times in the shop. And when the kids leave I get some real work done (laughs). I hope these times I have with them in the shop provided them an avenue to pursue the art of carpentry as a profession. There’s a good living to be made on it. I hope my kids grow up and furnish everything in the house (laughs). But at the same time, if they look at it as just a hobby, that’s incredible. I’m all for it. Right now, I’m sitting at a desk I made. They love coming home and doing their homework on this desk. We all made a toolbox together once. Everytime I see it, I know that we all had a hand in it. It warms my heart.

What does The Stump Shop’s community mean to you?

In the Instagram world we like to talk about “community over competition.” I really hold that highly. Basically, very very few things nowadays are really unique or never been done before. Now, the conversation is about encouraging others to go out and do the same. If someone on social media asks me how I made a certain piece of furniture, I’m not going to tell them it’s a secret. I’m all about helping others develop their creativity. It’s all about helping each other, being down to earth, and staying humble.

Learn more about The Stump Shop, follow Vik and his woodworking journey on Instagram @thestumpshop!