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Crew | March 2024

Dave engineers a side business from his passion for woodworking

Man in red jacket holding wooden knife board
  • Texan Dave Tanner is an electrical engineer by trade and invented an electric door lock in college
  • The son and grandson of carpenters, Dave makes stunning furniture in his spare time
  • He’s been wearing Steel Blue boots for 2.5 years and loves the way the zip makes them so easy to get on and off.

Dave Tanner’s father was a carpenter. So was his father’s father. It’s tempting, therefore, to suggest that Dave’s love of—and incredible talent for—working with wood is in the blood. And perhaps it is. But Dave didn’t follow his father and grandfather into the trade. The native of Dallas, Texas, became an electrical engineer—inventing an electric door lock for his graduation project in his senior year at college, before spending the bulk of his career working for telecommunications companies, designing cabling, racks and frames for computer systems. For a while he also worked for Texas Instruments, developing projects for the military, like radars, infrared and night vision.


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An in-demand hobbyist woodworker

But that love of carpentry was always there—the skills he learned watching and working beside his father as a kid and as a young man, itching for any excuse to find exercise.

“Whenever my kids wanted something built, a little fort in the backyard or something, or my wife wanted a planter box or whatever, I would go build it,” he said.

“I guess it’s been the last eight years or so that I’ve really started doing more stuff around the house. I replaced my stairs with hardwood stairs. Then my wife decided that she wanted some new furniture, but instead of buying the furniture, she figured I could build it.”

Once Dave’s friends and family saw his craftsmanship, it wasn’t just his wife putting in orders for furniture. Before long neighbours were ordering charcuterie boards, his kids wanted desks, and his daughter asked him to build a statement island bench for her kitchen.

A passion for woodwork that really took off

Dave’s side hustle proved so popular he created a business, Tanner’s Timber, and a popular Instagram account.

“I love how I can essentially make whatever I want out of wood,” Dave said. “If I sit down and think about it enough, I can probably come up with a way to build almost anything. I like how the grain of the wood looks. I like how every piece is different. I like the feel and texture of the wood. And I like that, if you make a mistake on wood, there’s always a way to fix it.”

Has Dave’s experience as an engineer helped him with his carpentry?

“Mainly with the math, because as an electrical engineer, you do a lot of math,” he said. “You also have to understand angles in electrical engineering and there’s a lot of that in woodworking.”

man wearing red jacket and Steel Blue boots using a wood cutting machine

Why Dave chooses to wear Steel Blue work boots

Dave started wearing Steel Blue work boots after seeing a welder wearing them on Instagram.

“I was a little hesitant at first because I wondered about the zipper—I’d never had a shoe with a zipper on it,” he said. “But I got a pair, tried them out, and I really liked them. I’ve been wearing them for two and a half years and I really enjoy them. I wear them all the time. What I really like about them is the zipper now! They’re so easy to get on and off.”

Dave said he likes wearing his Steel Blue boots in the workshop for safety reasons, specifically because of the steel toe cap.

“If I put them on, I wear them all day,” he said.

Head to your local Steel Blue stockist to discover work boots that are a mark of true skill, or shop online.

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