When my family immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1985, we were sponsored by the Lezons, a Polish-Italian family that tended to our needs as my mother searched for employment.
My mother was a successful embroiderer in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). It just so happened that John Lezon, the father of our sponsor family, was a sewing machine repairman that serviced several local dry cleaners. Those connections enabled my mother to establish a small business as a tailor for many of these dry cleaners using an old Singer sewing machine that the Lezons gave her.
Since my mother was single and working to support my sisters and me, the Lezon family cared for us for the majority of my adolescence. I would often watch John repair old cast-iron industrial sewing machines and give them a new life. Through the years, my mother always labored away at her craft, making clothing repairs at her sewing bench. These two things greatly influenced my career choices and ultimately my passion for woodworking.
Engineer by Day, Woodworker by Night
I went off to college to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. I then attended graduate school in Huntsville, Alabama, and received my master’s degree in aerospace engineering. I found a job locally doing infrared analysis on rocket engines. But while I greatly enjoy my job as an engineer, it lacks the “hands-on” experience that I was used to seeing throughout my childhood. So I started collecting old sewing machines and learning how to repair them as a hobby. I sold some machines, kept some of them and then started to learn how to make patterns and sew some of my own garments.
In 2013, I married my wife. We bought a foreclosed fixer-upper home. With a “can-do” attitude, my new hobby quickly became creating a modern functional home for my wife and I. In doing so, I acquired some basic used carpentry tools such as a circular saw, jigsaw, handheld router, table saw, drill and impact driver. I also started watching The New Yankee Workshop and became fascinated and obsessed with building furniture.
At this time, Instagram (IG) was becoming a popular social media platform for woodworkers to share their work. I jumped on the platform as a way to share my experience in building a fully-functional garage woodshop. Rather than just showing the finished “beauty shot” of the project I was working on, I attempted to chronicle my builds and explain my processes and methodology to my followers.
I figured only the most detail-oriented people would enjoy what I was producing. However, I was stunned by how captivated my audience was by the content I was producing. My audience also included potential clients that wanted me to produce commissioned furniture pieces.
Most of my builds these days are furniture, such as the Modern Farmhouse Dining Table. I’m currently fascinated with building chairs. The majority of my work continues to be for my family and friends with the occasional commissioned build. I try to keep the content I produce for my IG channel entertaining for my audience, but ultimately my goal is to continue to entertain my own passion for woodworking.