Going with the Grain

Walk through ancient scripture professor Thomas A. Wayment’s Mapleton, Utah, home, and you might think you’ve stepped into a high-end American furniture catalog showroom—and with good reason. “I try to talk furniture makers into letting me have their catalog,” says Wayment, who will then craft a modified piece from the picture alone.

Except for the piano, sofas, and some chairs, Wayment has created all of the woodwork in his home—dressers, beds, floors, cabinetry, and doors—most from quartersawn oak, with its wavy grain and distinctive ray-fleck pattern.

“I showed someone some of my furniture one time, and he said, ‘Why would you build it when you can buy it?’ I said, ‘Oh, that kind of misses the point.’”

The point, according to his wife, Brandi, is getting exactly what you want: “You can never find somebody to build Stickley-style kitchen cabinets in quartersawn white oak and then have them stain them in two stages.”

Thom, well, he enjoys the peace. “It’s quiet out there in the garage,” he says. “I get to think through things.” The self-taught woodworker says he feels a sense of accomplishment when he finishes a piece and “somebody’s like, ‘Wow, that’s impressive.’”

Wayment’s departures from his professorial role extend well beyond woodworking. He estimates he’s five years out from completing his remodel of a 1962 Austin-Healey that sits on blocks in the garage. He surfs every summer with his daughters, cooks pizza in a Roman-style brick oven built in his backyard, and is a professional photographer on the side. These pursuits provide welcome relief from the buttoned-up regularity of work. “You are always in a shirt and tie,” he says. “You get to get away from that—you really escape and have a chance to be free.”

Full Name: 
Thomas A. Wayment
Author: 
Michael R. Walker (BA ’90)
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