Made in Tampa Bay: Bay Area woodworkers make big impacts on local businesses

- The tables at Ulele are recognizable to anyone who's dined there. The artisan who made them is now making a name for himself as the go-to for custom wooden furniture. 

We visited Built, the workshop of Andrew Watson. He makes furniture for homes and offices all over the Bay Area.

Right now, he's working on a conference room table, long enough to fit at least a dozen people, made from four massive pieces of wood.

Before he specialized in such large pieces, Watson started small. His first big project was making the tables for Ulele. 

His business' growth parallels the growth of the Bay Area.

"It's the perfect cycle of the economy. Other businesses are providing a service, and we can come in and support them," Watson explained. "A project like Ulele, we've had tables there for five years now, and think of the thousands of people that have sat on them and had meals with their family around them and shown off Tampa to friends from out of town on them. It's a cool thing to support other businesses in that way."

Tables are a large part of what they do now, but they've also made some unique pieces like a foosball table and a shuffleboard table.

Now, there's a new venture on the horizon: Watson is launching his own furniture line.

Since they do everything in-house, the pieces will be like nothing else available.

"Wood comes in very rough, in kind of random sizes and a little bit messy. We'll go through and mill everything down, flatten the surface and get rid of all the knots and checks and issues in the wood and glue it together to make a piece of furniture," Watson said.

The timeline for a dining room table, from idea to delivery, is between four to six weeks.

"At any time, we usually have 40 to 50 projects going on. For instance, this piece going to Ichicoro Ramen in Seminole Heights. It's going to be a lockable liquor cabinet for them. We laser cut some steel. This is solid ash for the top and case, and they can just slide these through," Watson said.

Because they're expanding, Built is now more than just wood. They also have a metal shop, where they work with steel, aluminum, and brass. They're also incorporating glass into some of their projects.

"It's been kind of a whirlwind. We started six years ago out of just kind of a desire to be creative and build unique things, and it's evolved since then. So, now we staff 10 to 12 guys right now and women."

To see more of the pieces from Built, visit www.builtthings.com.

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