from Chemist to Carpenter
ith a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, Garth Jones says he
never expected to own a woodworking shop.
But he says he hasn’t looked back since opening
Jones Furniture Designs in Lawrenceville about 10 years ago after leaving
his job as a research assistant professor at UPMC.
“It’s very satisfying at the end of the day to tell people, ‘ This is what I
do, and this is what I made today,’” says Jones, 48, of Squirrel Hill. “I guess
as a synthetic organic chemist I was building new molecules, but that’s
hard for people to relate to.”
Jones, a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, became
acquainted with woodworker Don Reed in 1994 when both men were
taking lessons in the Japanese combat art Aikido. Reed had crafted his
own sword, or bokken, and Jones often
The two left their respective careers
about the same time and decided to share
space for their own woodworking companies — Reed is now semi-
Jones’ specialty is freestanding pieces — he won’t install a full kitchen
in your home, but he can design and craft the dining room table, chairs
Another of his specialties is creating reproductive turnings — making replicas of spindles to match those found in railings and on porches
of old Pittsburgh homes. He’s also built a couple of boats and kayaks to
indulge his love of water recreation.
His shop is housed inside a former meat market on Butler Street,
where he also owns Slaughterhouse Gallery & Studios, a spot for artists to
host shows and events.
“We could go back to me at graduation and say, ‘Years from now
you’re going to be making furniture in an old slaughterhouse in Pittsburgh,’ and I would have fallen over laughing,” he says. “It’s been a fun
PHOTOS BY GARTH JONES pittsburghmagazine.com/home | OCTOBER 2014 | 43
HOME FRONT Living
BY LAUREN DAVIDSON
After leaving his job at UPMC a decade ago to become a woodworker,
Garth Jones is happily embracing his second career.
JONES FURNITURE DESIGNS
5136 Butler St. Lawrenceville