Gerald “Jerry” Everett is looking to put down his woodworking tools by the end of this year, retiring a 50-year career with the George Nakashima Woodworkers studio.
The 67-year-old Solebury Township resident has been a woodworker with the Nakishima studios since he was just 17 years old.
“It doesn’t seem like 50 years, when you love what you do,” Everett said. “I don’t think of it as work even. I just go up there and they let me play eight hours a day.”
Everett has always had a love for creating things out of wood. He described his early years playing with and creating wooden structures as a child before becoming interested in woodworking itself.
“My dad would always give me the devil because he could never find a nail or a piece of wood in the house,” Everett said. “I knew from a very young age that I wanted to do something with wood.”
He explained that he discovered his love for the craft of real woodworking when he was taking wood shop in high school. He said that from the first few classes he knew it was what he wanted to do.
Everett said that he became so regarded that if the teacher had to leave the classroom he would take over the class. He eventually developed such a talent and passion that his shop teacher brought him to George Nakashima’s attention as Everett got into his senior year.
And the rest is history.
Everett started at the Nakashima shop the day after he graduated from high school. Since 1990, after George Nakashima died, Everett has moved up to be in charge of the shop and has been in charge of mentoring the shop’s newer craftsmen.
“I learned almost everything from George,” Everett said. “He was the master and I was the student. When something comes up I ask myself, ‘What would George have done?’”
Everett has made everything from entry doors for houses in Korea to a coffee table for the White House. He said that the different types of wood they get to work with are his favorite parts of the studio. The studio currently has about five lumber sheds filled to the brim with wood.
“Most is walnut but there are 57 huge pieces of wood,” Everett said. “It’s very interesting to work in something big. A normal woodworker doesn’t get that kind of wood.” Among other things, the studio has produced the massive Peace Tables that have been placed in New York, Moscow and Auroville, India. It was George Nakashima’s dream to install Peace Tables on all five continents. The fourth installation is planned for Cape Town, South Africa.
Everett is now the only person outside of the direct Nakashima family working at the studio who knew George Nakashima.
George came to New Hope and created the George Nakashima Woodworkers Shop in 1946. His daughter, Mira Nakashima Yarnall, became the creative director at his death.
George said that wood is a material that “lives and breathes,” according to his book “The Soul of a Tree,” which was published in 1981.
“I follow George’s philosophy,” Everett said. “It is mine now. I try to make sure that the process is how George wanted it.”
Everett said that when George passed away, people canceled their orders right away. He explained that Mira had to make her own name and she kept the business going.
“The shop came back from barely anything to orders over a year scheduled ahead,” Everett said.
And currently, the studio is backlogged with orders through next year.
After retirement, Everett hopes to stay with the studio in some capacity as a consultant. He said that as long as he can stay involved in some way, he will be happy.
“I’ve been really lucky to find a place to do something I’ve wanted to do all along – that pays you,”
Everett said. “It’s the ultimate. I’m extremely lucky in a lot of ways.”