Engineering intricacy

Gregg Palm of Wolverine Lake, Mich., has an eye for design and a fascination with infinite pattern combinations.

Formerly an automotive design engineer, Palm, 47, traded in his six-figure salary to start his woodworking business, G3 Studios, three years ago. He now makes a living creating intricately designed wooden items from salt-and-pepper shakers to various home decorations.

Palm draws upon his technical expertise in using a wood segmenting process that produces items of meticulous artistry. His experience in the shop stems back to junior high and high school.

“One of the things I think that intrigued me about doing it is trying to figure out ways to make things look very complicated but also, at the same time, figuring out ways to actually make it easier,” says Palm. 

Kitchen products include pepper mills and salt grinders available in sizes ranging from 8" to 14" and up to 24" upon special order. Other products include bottle stoppers, bottle stands, cutting boards, chopping blocks, bowls, and candy, nut, potpourri or trinket dishes. Palm says the company is growing rapidly, but he wants to stick with making small, high-quality items.

“Especially this day and age of the economy, I think the market is a little better for smaller items,” he says. “You can attract more people; they’re smaller purchases, and they’re easier to give as gifts.”

The most popular purchases by far are the peppermills, says Palm, for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays or people giving themselves personal gifts. Palm is steadily building up a clientele. He started out selling his items at local art fairs in the southeast Michigan area and recently ventured to Kentucky. He’s now looking for other ways to market his business while relying on word-of-mouth advertising. 

He has 1,000 sq. ft. of studio space in a building detached from his home on his property. Palm uses about 50 varieties of wood, including exotics like ebony, zebrawood and purpleheart. Each product is coated with an epoxy-like finish. The average price for an individual mill is about $350.

Palm said that because of his background in engineering, the segmenting technique of mixing different woods and segments together is fun because he enjoys the mathematics and calculations involved. 

“I really enjoy the complexity, and I’m always looking for ways to make things more complicated,” he says. “I’m having a blast. I’ve never had so much fun in my life. I wish I started this years ago.”

Contact: G3 Studios LLC, 808 Adelaide Dr., Walled Lake, MI 48390. Tel: 248-669-5625. www.g3studios.net