Meet the Carpenters: Stephen Zimpel

Meet the Carpenters: Stephen Zimpel

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Tara Bellucci
Mar 4, 2016
(Image credit: Courtesy HGTV)

Name: Stephen Zimpel
City: Valencia, CA
HGTV/DIY show: The Outdoor Room
Contestant partnered with: Melissa Rivera Torres

What’s one word that describes your partnership with your contestant? Effortless! We clicked like brother and sister, really a great pairing.

How would you describe your style?

I’m a bit of a chameleon with my style, I tend to like and appreciate almost every style... beautiful design is beautiful design. I love raw industrial with iron and concrete all the way to colonial and traditional, which is what I grew up with. My Dad was a big developer of custom homes and he designed everything he built. So I grew up learning design and proportion from him (not realizing I was learning it) like he learned from his uncle. My grandfather on my mother’s side was also an extremely talented craftsman with a tradition that was passed down through generations starting back in the 1700s in Scotland. I guess it’s in my blood...

Favorite power tool?

That’s like asking which of your children is your favorite! My favorite power tool is the one that’s in my hand and making my job perfect! I am partial to my table saw, though... you can do so many things on a properly set up table saw.

What was the first project you ever built? The toughest? The most fun?

The first project I built that I can remember was a weather vane shaped like a cow. It was cut out of pine and was mounted on a copper pipe. I think I was 8 or 9 when I made that. My dad got me started pretty early.

The toughest was a 20’ long table I made for Charlize Theron. It was made out of 7 different species of wood all cut into 1x4 strips and assembled like a giant cutting board...I think it had over 1200 feet of wood in it and weighed about 1000lbs. But it was fun getting to meet her and hear that she and a bunch of huge Hollywood A-listers had Thanksgiving dinner on it!

The most fun was a chandelier that I made out of steel to hold five iMac computers (the colored bubble ones) to look like the pinwheel ad from the 90s. They were mounted so that they could swivel up to be used when the entire piece was lowered by the electric hoist it was attached to. That was also when I taught myself how to weld.

What are 3 things every beginner should have in their toolkit?

Hmmm... Tape measure, good saw, and a hand plane. That’s really hard to narrow down to three things... three hundred, I could do!

Best advice:

Don't be afraid of learning how to design or work with wood, and never hesitate to ask for help!

Thanks, Stephen!

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