When David Rudel saw a need, he didn’t hesitate to meet it by founding a Charlotte custom woodshop in late 2017. The former corporate ladder climbing businessman transitioned into a role characterized by community, conservation, and creativity.
His Charlotte custom woodshop, CutChopServe, up-cycles hardwood by building cheese, charcuterie, and cutting boards, chopping blocks, tables, bars, built-ins, and wall art/signage. Their speciality is building heirloom quality goods by using reclaimed lumber and recycled materials.
Rudel’s guiding mission is to be an environmentally-friendly, sustainably-run company with a positive influence on the surrounding community. So his team focuses on connecting supply chains to eliminate the disposal of felled hardwood lumber in and around Charlotte that would otherwise be converted to waste. Rudel gives rescued lumber a second life.
When and how did your Charlotte custom woodshop start?
I was in Kuwait, sweating from the scorching heat and surrounded by sand, when I decided it was time for a change. I spent six years ascending the corporate ladder, creating international business opportunities for the oil and gas industry. But the void between my purpose and work had never been greater. I felt completely unfulfilled and discovered a moral conflict between my work and my interest in the health of our planet. I decided my life’s work needed to have more positive impact.
As Charlotte continued to grow, developers cut down our diverse and plentiful tree canopy to accommodate new construction. Here’s the kicker: companies were spending money to throw the trees away. I thought that there must be a way to work myself into this supply chain and divert some of that lumber from the dump and into my hands.
I spent about six months on the phone with tree companies, wood shops, saw mills, and arborists figuring out how to do so before starting my Charlotte custom woodshop. Mother Earth needs our help, and we’re determined to be part of the solution, not the problem.
How did your interest in this field first begin?
As a child, I was always 100 times more interested in building the perfect bike ramp than actually jumping it. I would look at things and immediately try to deconstruct and reconstruct them in my head. Also, I was the only one of my friends with a shed full of saws, drills, clamps, and lumber. I’ve always been a builder and creator, but I never thought this passion could morph into my livelihood.
What sets CutChopServe apart from other wood shops?
Our mission is founded in making a positive impact. For example, we plant a tree for every sale, with the aim of planting 1,000 trees by the end of 2019.
I build items at a more attainable price point to boost volume (in terms of number of sales). I also work with quite a few restaurants from Ballantyne to Concord, supplying serving boards and flight paddles. Finally, it’s a priority of ours to partner and volunteer with as many community organizations as possible. I’m a Tree Ambassador for TreesCharlotte. I am also participating as a sponsor with an upcoming Big Brothers and Big Sisters disc golf tournament and fundraiser.
What drew you to woodworking?
Regarding the products I build, nothing beats the organic beauty of nature itself. There’s something mesmerizing about the undulating live edges of a tree. That’s why you’ll see lots of them in my work. However, as I’m also a bit of a math geek—I love patterns, straight lines and perfect angles. So I love incorporating the organic elements of nature alongside the rigid and defined worlds of geometry and math.
How can someone work with you?
I am always looking to collaborate with other artists and wood workers in and around Charlotte. Additionally, if anyone knows of lumber, logs, or trees sitting unused in an old barn, woodshop, attic, or basement, reach out to me. Instead of cutting down more trees, I think it’s vital we use already-milled lumber first. There are literally tons of useable but forgotten hardwood lumber laying around Charlotte at this very moment.
How do you hope to see the business evolve?
Ultimately, I want CutChopServe to be a mainstay of the community that’s not only known for building best-in-class furniture, kitchenware, and artwork, but also known for our support of the organizations making Charlotte a better place and the advocation of smarter urban forestry techniques. Lots of people can build tables and chairs, but we want to help build a better city.