Sawdust Sands

Jerrod Sands has taken his artistic expression and creativity into the world of wood. As owner of Top Grain Reclaimed, he gives used wood a second life and a new form. He has evolved from making planters for his small Downtown Phoenix apartment to having a shop in which he creates pieces sold to the Phoenix community and beyond. The wood he uses is unique, and each piece has its own story, just like the community Sands aims to serve.

WOD: What was your experience with woodworking prior to the start of your business?

Jerrod: It was just more of a hobby. My dad was a hobbyist woodworker so I learned a lot when I was young, and I just had given it up for a while. … I forgot how much I liked [woodworking] because this life had taken me in different directions. One thing led to another and one planter led to another. People just started buying them, and now I’m here.

WOD: Why is using reclaimed wood important to you?

Jerrod: First of all it was kind of free. Free in the sense that I didn’t have to pay for it, but free wood’s not really free when you have to put the work into it. But I started going to these construction sites and seeing the amount of wood that just gets sent off to the landfill blew me away—how many pallets and shipping crates and old furniture and things like that go off.

It’s just cool giving it a second life. There’s a story behind it. Like an old piece of furniture is now somebody’s nightstand, or now it’s a cutting board. … There’s a story behind everything and the story’s really cool. Wood in general has an energy and a warmth and a richness to it that keeps giving.

WOD: What’s your favorite part of woodworking?

Jerrod: Making sawdust (haha). I like the feel of wood. I like the smell of it, I like the feel of it, I like the touch of it. I don’t like splinters, and I get those a lot. Wood’s got an energy to it. Whether it’s alive or dead, there’s an energy still there. Wood brings a warmth and a richness to a room. I get that feeling from wood.

WOD: What inspires the pieces you produce?

Jerrod: I get [inspiration] from all over. I get it from people’s ideas, people talking to me, cruisin around—if I see something in the store or around the internet. People’s ideas—people telling me what they want. We create things together. They’ll start with an idea and say, ‘hey can you build this?’ And I say, ‘yeah’ and we’ll start getting into it back and forth and sometimes it’ll turn out different than what we both thought it would. The creative process just takes its own journey.

WOD: How does woodworking impact your other work or life in general?

Jerrod: When I am working with wood, it keeps me present; it keeps me in the moment. I don’t have to worry about the future’s fear or pride or the past’s ego. … It’s very important in my life—to keep myself in the present moment, to stay where my feet are, and just be grateful for the moment I have because you just don’t know what’s around the corner. That has helped me rejuvenate and revitalize on a regular basis. Even though I’m trying to make money from it, I love it. I have a regular job too, so I’m trying to make this my full time job. My regular job I strictly do for money. I don’t have the love for it that I have for this. That gives me peace and serenity in my head.

WOD: How do you think your work contributes to the art community?

Jerrod: It’s my gift. A one of a kind, unique item to whoever may want to enjoy it forever. I don’t typically participate in art shows or galleries or things like that, but when I make something and someone comes and falls in love and thinks they can’t live without it and takes it away, then I’ve contributed to their happiness and the betterment of their home or their life—or I hope that’s what I achieve.