The bottle openers are created using several different woods that DeMao buys locally, such as walnut, cherry, mahogany and reclaimed Georgia barn wood. They are between 2.5 and 5 inches wide with magnets adhered into the wood that stick to any magnetic surface such as a refrigerator. A hole in the back of the openers also allows it to be hung on the wall.
“When you open a bottle of beer, soda or whatever, the magnet catches the bottle cap before it hits the ground. The magnet gathers the bottle caps, and once it gets full you can slide them off into the trash or recycling or however you want to dispose of them,” DeMao said.
“They’re a pretty neat item because they look so cool and have a decent utility. You don’t have to reach for the bottle opener. You can just reach for the one on your refrigerator,” he said.
DeMao, a Georgia Tech graduate who has worked in project management and estimating at an architectural millwork firm for four years said, “Seeing the way they built the cabinets and all the trim got my interest into woodworking.”
Not long after he started his job, DeMao became more involved in the design stage and product fabrication at the millwork firm. As his interest peaked at the firm over the past several years so did his interest in woodworking.
“That snowballed into adding more machinery and tools into my parents’ garage (in Kennesaw), where my shop is. My parents have been really accommodating because I’ve overtaken their garage with these woodworking tools,” he said.
DeMao initially made the bottle openers as gifts for friends for occasions, such as housewarmings and weddings. “I never thought much of them until my friends told me that I should try selling these things. I opened an Etsy shop, and they took off. They definitely have a market and it’s fun building them,” he said.
WoodEyes is a family run business. DeMao solicited the help of his brother-in-law, Blake Liddel, to build the openers, his sister, Amy Liddel, for marketing, and his new bride Kristen Mabes for shipping and photography. “It’s definitely taken off. It’s a family run affair,” he said.
Even the name WoodEyes Woodworks is tribute to an anecdote told to him by his father as a child. He relayed the story that a self-conscious middle school boy with a wooden eye is encouraged by friends at a dance not to be a wallflower.
“His friends come up and tell him there’s a girl across the way with a hook nose, and she’ll probably want to dance with him because she’s self conscious, too,” he recalled.
When the boy with the wooden eye asks the girl if she would like to dance, she replied, “Would I?”
The boy, not thinking, blurted out, “Hook nose.”
“It’s one of those terrible dad jokes that’s full of puns. It’s one of those things that stick with you. When it got time to start my woodworking company, I thought it might be a neat little way to pay tribute to one of those horrible jokes I grew up with. It stuck, and everybody gets a kick out of it,” said DeMao, a 2005 Kennesaw Mountain High School graduate.
“We have a ton of fun making the bottle openers. Getting to experiment with different kind of woods has definitely quenched my woodworking thirst. It’s definitely been a treat expanding my woodworking knowledge, getting my family involved, and supporting the local economy. They’re a good talking piece. It’s a unique gift for someone who might have everything but doesn’t have this,” DeMao said.
To learn more or order a magnetic bottle opener, visit www.etsy.com/shop/WoodEyesWoodworks.