What part of town do you live in?
It’s called Riviera Gardens, but basically, we’re in unincorporated Dade County. It’s the Red Road and Blue Road area, near University of Miami.
How long have you been in Miami?
All my life. I left for college, but I was born here in 1973.
Would you tell us a little bit about what you do during the week?
I’m a father to three kids of various ages and I have Miles of Wood Carpentry, which is a finished carpentry and architectural millwork outfit that was incorporated in 2004. We have a wood shop in Central Miami. We work mostly on custom residences and restaurants.
Are you actually milling whole logs here in Miami?
Yes, we do have a mill in the Redland where we saw locally reclaimed logs. There’s about six or seven species of really nice hardwoods that grow locally. After hurricanes, or for whatever reason a tree comes down, we’ll grab them and saw them. We don’t get enough jobs like this, but we’re currently making a dining set with table and chairs and a coffee table and desk for a historic home in Coral Gables using local materials, which is kind of cool.
Another thing we mill are reclaimed dock pilings that have been in the mud and stayed underwater – below the tide line. When we saw them, the wood is in really good shape, but it’s very hard and tricky to cut. We’ve used this wood for LEED certified projects because it’s the only hardwood decking manufactured in Dade County.
What trends do you see in woodwork?
There are fads of what species are in favor. We’ll go from oak to walnut to synthetics. One thing that’s recently started is like the old ‘Florida houses’ that had shiplap siding. New hyper mansions, have so much concrete that they’re looking to break up the whiteness and they’re putting wood cladding on the walls on the outside. It’s strictly decorative, but definitely accents these houses.
There is also a new trend for thermally modified wood. They’re taking an Ash wood, which if you put it outside untreated it would rot, but they’re baking it at a certain temperature that cooks out the sugar, which is really what is susceptible to water and bug rot. After it’s modified, you can use it outside. It’s pretty and it’s lighter too, because it’s basically dehydrated.
What’s the most fun project you’ve ever built?
My daughter’s tree house. I had some wood in the back of my truck, left over from work one day, and we just climbed up in the old tree and made a little platform and added some rope and we refer to it as the chimpanzee training course. It’s cool to connect with kids and part of the reason I do what I do is because making stuff with wood is just fun. Every now and then, even though I’m in more of an administrative role in the company, there’s definitely times where I have to get out of my office, go down to the wood shop, and make something – whether it’s a toothbrush holder or a bench. Doing that with the kids is super fun because it’s something we can share together.
Do you use CAD technology or milling into your shop?
I do my drawings by hand and then I give them to somebody who converts them into CAD and sometimes we’ll send that out. If it requires sophisticated routing, we’ll send them to a CNC machine, which takes a sheet of plywood and cuts it out to exactly the shape with the holes and everything where you want it. If it is feasible, I’ll still do it the old school way where we cut by hand and nail it with a hammer.
How often do you come to the market?
Probably 30 weeks a year.
What’s your ritual like when you come?
Well, we usually come and get a smoothie from you guys, and jack fruit if you haven’t sold out and some guacamole. The three kids have three different eating habits. So one of them likes acai bowl, one like Nisha’s samosas. You and Nisha’s are definitely our two stops.
You’ve been using our turmeric for a while, what do you like about it?
I’ve got a lot of arthritis type issues and bones and muscles and that concentrate is one of the first things I drink every morning. I’ll drink like a big glass of water and I’ll take a sip from the turmeric and maybe have some probiotics and then I can think about whatever else is going to happen that morning. I think it really does help with inflammation and chronic tennis elbow type pain.
What do you enjoy about coming to the market?
I think there’s something nice about the fact that it’s only there once a week. It feels like it’s more alive, you’re not in a store; you’re in a community. I’m big into community. I like to volunteer and pipe up when I think something’s not going right. I like acting locally and farmer’s markets are definitely in that lane. And, you’re gonna find like minded people.
What do you think would make the market better?
The parking is a mess. The only thing you could do would be to encourage people to ride their bike with some sort of incentives. It’d be interesting.
What’s a favorite activity you enjoy doing with your kids?
My favorite days surfing are when I have my kids with me, even though it sort of slows me down. Anything with the kids is more fun than doing it without them.
Where do you all like to go out for food? Any recommendations?
I try to cook most of the meals at home. If we go out to eat, I’ve got one vegan and one vegetarian. So we go to places that can accommodate that. A lot of them are in Design District or beach and usually restaurants that I’ve worked on. For a special occasion, there’s a place called Planta in Miami Beach. Everything on the menu is plant-based.
What do you like to cook at home?
I’ll let the secret out. We grill peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the way you would make a grilled cheese. It releases the bouquet of the jelly and the nuttiness of the peanut butter.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
I think people forget if you make it to the water, there’s so much you can do from canoeing around the mangroves to the coral reefs that will blow your mind. I know people that have lived in the city for decades and they’ve never put on a mask and snorkel.
What’s a worthy splurge for you?
I’ll say buying organic. When it comes down to like clothes, I’m fine with a t-shirt. But for food, I always want to buy the best possible thing.
What’s a fun rainy day activity?
Perez art museum, but that’s also a good sunny day activity because you’re in air conditioning. Or, going into the wood shop and making some creative art projects with the kids.
You mentioned some community work. What groups are you close to that you might like to share?
I volunteer coach at South Miami United Football Club. I’m a booster for Coral Gables Senior High School athletics. But, I started going to city hall meetings when there was talk of converting a neighborhood park. It was my first foray into city hall meetings and stuff and I saw that really we’re not getting the best people for these positions. I think it’s important that we realize that it takes a group, and once you get a group of voices together there’s a lot of power.
Would you consider running for office or running for a position?
I don’t think so. I’ve got a business with 14 employees, and three kids that are dependent on me. I would be on some kind of board so that I could focus on it the way I think it deserves.
Would you like to share a quick pitch about Miles of Wood?
If you’re taking out a hardwood tree, reconsider if it really needs to come out. When they do have to come out, we’ll give it a second chance at becoming something beautiful. We’ll pick it up, saw it, and you’ll get to see this whole new thing about it.
Is there a question that you would like to ask us?
(MB) Are you guys thinking of expanding into brick and mortar or expanding your goods?
(A+W) We continue to talk about a brick and mortar location, but you’re right about the market being a special day. We would need to find a way to keep that magic going all week.
Is there a question or a challenge that you would like to pose to the community?
Let’s get rid of plastic bags. I don’t think it’s too late to stop. I think we can start making moves.