Welcome to Beyond the Desk – a series exploring passions, interests, and hobbies outside of the office. This month, our intern, Justin Zhu interviews Proposal Manager and Communications Lead, Tracy Chong and writes about her passion for woodworking.

This month, we highlight Tracy’s passion for woodworking and how she salvages material that has reached the end of its existence, revitalizes it, and repurposes it so that it is usable again.

Tracy’s biggest woodworking teachers have been YouTube, Instagram, and her partner. Her fascination with arts and crafts began at a young age. About a year and a half ago, she decided to explore woodworking.  

She lives in a historical urban neighborhood surrounded by beautiful but old trees. The tree limbs or even entire trees would occasionally have to be taken down due to rot/disease or had come down during a storm.

Tracy and her partner began collecting wood several years ago from their “urban forest”. To get useful lumber, it is hard work plus patience.

They must first process the lumber into slabs and then let the slabbed wood dry for a couple of years (depending on thickness) before the wood is ready to be reused. 

Tracy loves woodturning on the lathe but is currently working on cutting boards, a project she embarked on just a few months ago. She invests her free time, often dedicating her weekends and evenings to bringing her visions to life.

Her work stands out for its natural wood colors, and her favorite project to date has been the creation of a chaos board, which involves gluing together various species of wood, sawing them up, rearranging them, and gluing them back together again until a “chaotic”, mesmerizing pattern emerges. 

One of the glue-ups of the chaos board

Even though it may look like Tracy uses artificial coloring, all of the colors in her pieces are all-natural, ranging from almost fluorescent yellow (local Mulberry wood) to purple and red from exotic woods such as Purple Heart wood and Padouk wood. 

Woodworking is not just a hobby for her; it’s a labor of love and a testament to her commitment to craftsmanship. Tracy’s ultimate goal is to create an art collection from her woodworking and possibly sell pieces of her unique creations. 

Tracy’s journey in woodworking highlights the beauty and transformative power of nature. Tracy summarizes her woodworking hobby as “giving the precious historical trees a second life”. 


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