Jay Kang’s woodworking business centers around rescuing

When Jay Kang of Rescued Woodworks 608 says it all started with a dog, he truly means that everything changed once he, his wife and his son adopted a dog.
Jay Kang in his studio
Photo by Nikki Hansen
Jay Kang creates tables, dog food feeders, cutting boards, chopsticks and more.

When Jay Kang of Rescued Woodworks 608 says it all started with a dog, he truly means that everything changed once he, his wife and his son adopted a dog.

Kang was working as an executive for Red Bull in 2016, and he would travel about 180 days a year. With a 6-year-old son getting older and busier, it became more difficult for Kang to travel all the time. He left the position, and while waiting for his six-month noncompete clause to expire, his family decided to adopt a dog.

Kang created a wooden feeder for the new addition using the tools he had on hand and YouTube. “I had zero woodworking knowledge, less than what a normal person would have for tools around their house, and so I was, like, ‘Let’s do this,’ ” Kang says.

Dog Bowl Stand

The product that started it all, the dog feeder, remains one of Rescued Woodworks’ core products. Jay Kang makes feeders that fit the size of the dog. (Photo by Nikki Hansen)

When he posted a photo of the new feeder on Facebook, people loved it. He then adopted another dog two months later — and made another feeder. The Dane County Humane Society saw his feeders and asked if he would be willing to donate some items for the annual Toto’s Gala. Those who missed the auction quickly started contacting DCHS for Kang’s contact information so he could make them dog feeders, too.

He created a random email account and the requests piled in. His six-month break turned into a year, which then became another year as woodworking became his full-time career. Since founding the business in May 2017, Kang has expanded from high-end dog furniture to charcuterie boards, chopsticks, dining room tables and more.

“I managed people prior to this, so the output that I would generate from my job would take years and years and years to maybe see some sort of result,” Kang says. “Being in the woodshop, it was like a drug to me. I could think of something, run it through some tools and then, boom, there it is.”

At the core of Kang’s brand identity is rescuing in all its forms. “I rescued these dogs and it put me down a path where it allowed me to change my career, and so they rescued me from the corporate world,” Kang says.

He also prevents wood from being sent to the landfill, as 90% of all the wood Kang uses is rescued from urban settings. He not only loves the sustainability element of using this wood, he also says trees that grow in urban areas are exposed to adverse conditions, creating unique grain structures that ultimately make his pieces more interesting.

“For me, the gnarliest pieces of wood that I can find that I make into furniture, those are the ones that everybody says, ‘Oh, my goodness, that’s the most stunning piece of work you’ve made.’ I continue to look for and go after those pieces,” Kang says.

Since he uses rescued urban wood, no two of his pieces are exactly the same. The local sawyer he partners with to source his wood also geotags trees, so Kang is able to find trees from specific areas in Madison if customers have a connection to a neighborhood or a street.

Jay kang holding a piece of wood

Jay Kang uses rescued urban wood, which grows in adverse conditions. Because of this, the wood has unique grain structures, which make his pieces more visually interesting. (Photo by Nikki Hansen)

Photo by Nikki Hansen

While many woodworkers either craft larger furniture pieces or smaller works, Kang enjoys doing both. He says he can never see a time when he doesn’t make pet furniture — that first feeder he created for his dog was what started it all. Over the past year, the custom furniture and larger items have been his passion and helped grow the business. Despite the numerous years he’s spent honing his craft, each piece remains a learning process.

“Even a year into this business if you would have told me, ‘Yeah, in a couple years you’ll have your own space, you won’t be working out of your garage and you’ll be shipping furniture all over the nation,’ I would have been, like, ‘Nah, no way,’ ” Kang says. “It’s been a wild ride.”

Find Rescued Woodworks 608:
Website: rescuedwoodworks.com
Instagram: @rescuedwoodworks608
Facebook: RescuedWoodworks608

Maija Inveiss is an associate editor at Madison Magazine.Magazine footer that says "Like this article, get so much more by subscribing"