Teacher by day, entrepreneur by night

Math teacher starts side woodworking business


Keeley Wright, Staff Writer

From paper and pencils to wood pieces and CNC machines, geometry teacher Taylor Hamilton is a man of many trades. Hamilton teaches high school algebra and geometry but is also a skilled woodworker.

Although he learned to teach through several years at Texas Tech, Hamilton has been a creative ‘maker’ for as long as he can remember.

“I started making things when I was little,” Hamilton said. “My dad had a garage full of tools and would repair things on the house, fix the cars, or make something for my mom who sold things on the side. As a kid, I actually did not know people took their cars places to change their oil or have something repaired.”

Baby nursery signs have become one of Hamilton’s most-requested items.

When he was younger, he even built his own bike ramp and added a second story to his tree house. Being creative and handy has become second nature for Hamilton, although he credits his father for teaching him how to properly and safely use the tools he needs today and his mother for his creativity. Hamilton grew up watching her paint signs, make jewelry, and make homecoming mums. It’s no surprise that he established his very own creative business, Taylor Makes, where he creates everything from small furniture pieces to personalized home decor.

“I officially started selling products in 2018 after I bought a wood CNC machine. I started selling these things as a way to pay for my hobby,” Hamilton said.

He describes his CNC machine to be similar to the CNC plasma cutter that the agriculture department has obtained recently, and he is very knowledgeable about them.

“They both require software that uses vectors to tell the cutter where to be in an x,y,z plane at a specific time,” Hamilton said. “I have never used any other machine, but I know there are bigger and higher quality machines people can buy. They continue to get better as new technology is developed to make less expensive machines better quality.”

Hamilton currently works from home under his carport, where his machine and other tools are stored in a small storage area. However, he is keen on the idea of growing and expanding his business.

“It’s boring to stay the same and [essentially] work hard to not grow. This year I am taking steps to track my business finances more closely and keep track of my orders,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton has also found ways to connect his teaching career to his business.

“I see my geometry skills when making products all the time. I may not use a compass and protractor, but I am using the math skills I have learned and what I teach very often. Math teaches you how to see a problem, look for your unknown, and work to find it– problem-solving.”

Although his geometry skills come in handy, running and expanding a small business isn’t without its challenges. Hamilton explains that the biggest challenge he’s had to learn to overcome is time management.

“If I didn’t manage time well at work, practice, and with family, I would not have time for my business. There is a reason why people call side businesses side hustles.”

Many impressed friends and customers wonder if  Taylor Makes will ever evolve from a side hustle to his main job, and even Hamilton himself states that is the question he asks himself most often.

“This is why I am tracking my finances and orders over this calendar year to see if it continues to grow and what I may need to adjust along the way,” Hamilton said. “So many people in the ‘maker’ community are quitting their 9-5 job and becoming makers full time.”

He has also considered other factors like if he can replace his current salary, having health and retirement benefits, and so on. Although he plans to grow his business and makes tons of more customers very happy in the process, Hamilton does not foresee Taylor Makes becoming his main job. At least, not for a while.

“For me, the opportunity would have to overcome my joy for teaching and impacting high school students.”

You can find Hamilton’s  work on Instagram @taylormakes_ , on Facebook “Taylor Makes” , and through his Etsy shop “TaylorMakesShop”. The best way to contact him is through Facebook and Instagram, and if you order on Etsy but live locally, be sure to message him for a free shipping code.