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Scott Leech – Woodworker

I have a passion for working with a specific type of wood: I recover it from dying or damaged trees on the U campus. I worked as a carpenter and construction manager at the U for 28 years, and I retired in 2019 to focus on crafting platters, boxes, tables, and more out of reclaimed wood. Trees hold special meaning for so many in the U of U community. They provide a sense of time and place as they mark the changing seasons.

After a windstorm downed trees across campus last September, the grounds department called about several they thought I could use. I was feeling bad after hearing the news, but when I saw the devastation of the trees where I had spent so many years of my career, it really hit home.

Right now, I’m processing some wood recovered from a sycamore near the bookstore, a Kentucky coffeetree from Presidents Circle, and a velvet ash from Cottam’s Gulch—a gully between the William Stewart Building and University Street. I’m usually in the shop by 6 a.m., and I can’t wait to make something new or improve upon what I’ve already made. I love turning gorgeous wood into useable items that others can enjoy. Later this summer, when I have some bowls from trees from the September storm available, I’ll list them on my website, utahbowls.com.

The upcycling of a tree into a beautiful new object is invigorating, knowing that the wood isn’t going to the landfill. And when I craft an item using wood from campus, I enjoy sharing the history of the tree and its connection to the university.


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