Meet Your Local Maker: Ian McNemar of Wood & Bark

Join us as we shine the spotlight on the business owners, craft artisans, and makers of Castro Valley!

After he slices a small log in half by way of handsaw, Ian McNemar uses a carving axe to chip away at the remaining block of wood, carving out square sides that will form the basis for his current project: a handmade wooden spoon, fashioned in the style of pre-industrial craftsmanship.

He then draws the outline of the spoon on the wood block, and chops it out gradually using a froe—a special type of axe designed for splitting wood and making roof shingles; Ian’s particular froe is over 100 years old! Ian smooths out and polishes the spoon with the use of a Swedish spoon knife and a straight slöjd knife.


“These days I cannot stop making spoons! I have connected with local arborists to get local tree rounds or branches which I split with an axe, shape with an axe, then refine with knives to be functional wares or ‘treen.’”

Ian’s interest in woodworking started when he was a child in his Dad’s workshop, eventually leading him to research how folks from the pre-industrial era made housewares and furniture. In realizing the tools and raw materials he needed for these projects could be found at local thrift stores and around his neighborhood, he set out to create a workshop to dive into his craft.

As a local artisan, Ian McNemar is passionate about sharing his love for crafting beautiful, handmade utensils and furniture from reclaimed wood, local tree rounds, and branches with the Castro Valley community. And while he has done demonstrations at maker events and craft fairs, Ian’s woodworking is primarily an ongoing passion project that brings him joy and stability.

“I don’t have to make a living with craft, so for me it’s completely rewarding to be out demonstrating and inspiring others to work with their hands and make something they need.”

Ian’s crafts can be found on his instagram, @wood_and_bark, alongside his “furry apprentice” Frank the French Bulldog. He encourages folks who are thinking of pursuing the maker’s path to go with purpose and passion, telling others not to fear trying something new and to be open to starting small and learning the craft slowly and patiently. This, he insists, will help build a foundation of skills and allow you to be more agile in understanding how you want to grow.

“Start small, but start. You don’t need full tool chests of tools… I find a lot of authenticity in being able to make a lot with just what I have.”