In a world full of woodworkers, antique collectors, “pickers” and masters of repurposing, Jay Chaikin is a rarity. His charm, gift of gab, and wheeler dealer approach may get his foot in the door but it is his skilled woodworking and his ability to inject “life” back into old, historic artifacts that is his true sweet spot.
Want to know how we define a Workshop Hero Nation “Ace?” Look to Chaikin and his work ethic, his mastery of his craft, and his passion to share his skills with those who are willing to learn and you will see a living example of a Workshop Hero Nation “Ace.”
It was Chaikin’s stint as a television personality on the National Geographic Channel that brought him, and his work, notoriety. Chaikin took his craft to the airwaves when he starred in the reality series titled “Abandoned.” The show debuted August of 2012 and filmed 13 episodes chronicling Chaikin and his team traveling the countryside in search of abandoned properties that housed hidden treasures – specifically hidden treasures that could later be restored and sold.
With Chaikin, it all began with this love for woodworking and history. While 1996 marks his official entry into the business world of building homemade furniture and running an antique store, it was a vocation that was a lifetime in the making.
“I love working with antique wood and thinking about the people that have used it throughout the years,” he said. “Even back into childhood, I appreciated and collected anything old. I was passionate about history and couldn’t look at an antique piece of furniture without thinking about the man who made it with his hands, the tools he used, the farm he probably lived on.”
Chaikin, with the help of his wife and business partner Ricki, launched JCWoodworking as a furniture business and over time it evolved into a reclaimed wood and structure business. The business had humble beginnings – Chaikin housed his workshop in a barn and in order to use the workspace he traded his labor to maintain the property the barn was housed on.
“At the time, Ricki was in school, our bills were low and although we were broke, I quit my job and we decided to go for it. I owned virtually no tools at all and borrowed money for the bare necessities: a table saw, radial arm saw and bandsaw,”
JC Woodworking was established to take full advantage of Chaikin’s skills and passion for wood working and furniture and with it he began using antique wood to create beautiful flooring, build additions and to build barns. During this time, he would find the material for his furniture by going “on-site” to 1800’s dwellings and salvaging the wood.
“The best part of my job was going out to these beautiful, historical buildings and saving as much as I could. To me, being in a 200-year old barn or log home was like being at an amusement park. I loved everything about them,” Chaikin said.
JCWoodworking set the pace for the Chaikin family-business model and it was followed by Reclaimed Relics, a ‘sister’ business that works with objects within the buildings rather than the structure itself. Through the magic of word of mouth and the internet, it was Reclaimed Relics that caught the eye of a production company who was looking to create a reality show about historic, abandoned buildings and the treasures within.
“We thought the first email we received from them was a joke but we got the job and filmed an entire season of ‘Abandoned’ that appeared on the National Geographic Channel.”
Chaikin’s curiosity and Workshop Hero Nation “Ace-like” drive to use his talents to the fullest have been the fire that fuels him. Look for Chaikin in a return to television this fall via the Discovery Channel. Chaikin and his team continue their work to track down and repurpose vintage structures on “Renovation Wild.”
The rest, as they say, is history, just the way Chaikin likes it!