Several years ago, Jackie Gollbach discovered a series of videos on YouTube produced by Texas residents Whitney Gainer and Ashley Turner, two self-taught carpenters who created the successful “Shanty2Chic” do-it-yourself furniture brand.
Gollbach became emboldened after watching the sisters talk with passion about how they turned their hobby into a career and their belief that anybody can, in their words, “pick up that scary tool and go.” Her own burgeoning passion for woodworking grew from there.
“Seeing other women who are building, who are makers, that was part of the inspiration of me setting out to do something similar,” Gollbach said. “It was definitely inspiring because it showed me where I could be one day if I continue to work towards this and learn more and accumulate more tools and resources and skills.”
Now, Gollbach is hoping to inspire other girls or women to take up woodworking — or pursue other activities that are traditionally viewed as male oriented — through her own YouTube video series.
Gollbach, a Washougal resident, launched “Nail Polish and Power Tools” on YouTube earlier this month.
“I’ve had a couple of women reach out to me and tell me that my videos inspired them, asking me what tools to get, or showing me projects that they did because they saw me doing something similar first,” she said. “That to me is super encouraging, and I would love to continue to do that on a larger scale.”
In her first video, she shows viewers how to construct a recessed logo sign. In her second, she takes viewers through the process of creating a picture frame. And she’s got more creative ideas that she plans to present in the near future.
“I’ll probably incorporate a lot of my personal passions,” she said. “I like skateboarding, and when I lived in Santa Cruz (California), I was an avid skimboarder, so two of the projects that I hope to do down the road is how to build a skimboard and how to build a skate ramp.
“But also (I want to do) different projects that (viewers) want to try. Some of these projects really aren’t as intimidating as they seem when you see the finished product. When you break down the process of how to create it step-by-step, it’s not that scary. It’s actually quite doable.”
Gollbach was encouraged to start a YouTube channel by some of her friends “because they enjoy the process of watching how things are made and they find it to be inspiring.”
“And also, it’s a really good creative outlet for me because not only am I learning more about woodworking, but it also pushes me to have to learn new things like video editing and logo animation and different things like that,” said Gollbach, a freelance graphic designer. “Right now, it’s a creative outlet with the hopes of it maybe becoming something more. Maybe it will be a way to network and to find new work, or to be able to sell some of my crafts. But that’s probably further down the road. Right now, I just really enjoy figuring out the process of how to make things and sharing them with people.”
Relationship didn’t last, but love for power tools did
Gollbach didn’t necessarily set out to find a passion for woodworking. Rather, it found her — thanks to an ex-boyfriend.
“I didn’t grow up doing it as a kid. I didn’t take woodshop in school or anything like that,” she said. “I was introduced to it about five or six years ago. I was dating this guy, and he had some tools, and we worked on a project together. I remember using a chop saw for the first time, and it was so loud and powerful, and honestly it was exhilarating. I felt super empowered. That was the beginning for me. Our relationship didn’t last for very long, but my love for power tools did.
Gollbach purchased her own tools and learned from several mentors who “took (her) under their wing)” and taught her how to use them. She also improved her skills by helping her friends with their personal projects, such as installing flooring, building a fence or laying down drywall. She also helped her church, Hope Church in Santa Cruz, to transform its indoor sanctuary into a skate park by constructing a series of ramps.
“I love seeing the potential beauty or function in something before it exists and making it happen,” she said. “Specifically, I really enjoy working with reclaimed wood. There’s just something special about seeing the beauty or potential in something that’d be destined for a dumpster and giving it a new purpose.”
After moving to Washougal in July, she obtained a part-time job at Solid Rock Handyman, a Vancouver-based repair and maintenance company.
“I’ve been able to learn a lot from that,” she said. “One of the projects that I got to help out with, and I did a lot of it, was helping build a deck. That was pretty cool.”
Brian Hamilton, the owner of Solid Rock Handyman, said that Gollbach “is an amazing young woman.”
“She is very talented at many different things,” Hamilton said. “She assists me part time, finishing carpentry, painting and deck repairs. She’s one of the hardest working people I’ve met. She’s always eager to learn new things as we both continue to grow in this trade. She also is designing new logos, taking over marketing and designing a new web page. She is very talented and just a great all-around human.”
Gollbach acknowledged that woodworking “can be challenging sometimes because in general people are surprised to see a woman doing these kinds of things.”
“People are more impressed when they see women doing these kinds of things because they don’t expect it,” she said. “When the bar is low as far as people’s expectations, it’s easy to exceed it. In general, it’s worked out in my favor because people see what I do, and maybe they’re more impressed because I am a woman doing woodworking.”
But for the most part, Gollbach has received encouragement and support from the people around her. She knows that with their support, she can achieve anything she sets her mind to — even her biggest goal of all, to build her own house someday.
“A lot of my friends really encouraged me to go for it,” she said. “The people who know me know that I’m pretty hardworking and capable, so they believe in me. For people who don’t know me, I think there might be a stereotype or generalization that it’s more ‘men’s work.’ I think they might write me off because I’m a woman. But I’m not really out here to prove anyone wrong. I don’t really feel the need to prove myself to anyone. I’m just out here having fun and learning a lot.”