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Validation within the process: Sawdust + Me opens in Waynesville

The newest wood broker and artisan wood crafting shop in Haywood County, Sawdust + Me recently launched its brick and mortar location in downtown Waynesville. Donated photo The newest wood broker and artisan wood crafting shop in Haywood County, Sawdust + Me recently launched its brick and mortar location in downtown Waynesville. Donated photo

At the corner of Depot and Haywood streets in downtown Waynesville sits an old building. Originally a gas station, it was also a longtime mechanic’s shop and later a car wash for a period. But, in recent months, the charming, somewhat dormant 147 Depot St. location has had new life breathed into it.  

“This place spoke to me,” said Deborah Bragg. “This building is almost a hundred years old, and we feel like we’ve been able to love it back to life — it’s been quite the transformation.”

ae sawdust Deborah Bragg

Deborah Bragg. Donated photo

Alongside her business partner, Rob Huffman, the duo recently renovated the property and transformed it into Sawdust + Me. A one-stop shop for wood service, the business can seemingly do it all in whatever they either harvest themselves or what may simply come through the front door.

“We have the unique opportunity to let each tree tells its own story through the creation of the furnishings that we hand make,” Bragg said. “And you can bring your own wood in and we’ll surface it — you don’t have to buy from us.” 

Within Sawdust + Me, one can find wood broking, design, kiln drying, surfacing flattening, wood engraving, logos, signs and more. It’s a wide gamut of skills and options, this ideal, seamless combination of Bragg’s vast imagination and Huffman’s intricate wood artistry. 

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ae sawdust Rob Huffman

Rob Huffman. Donated photo

“Our love and enthusiasm for the mountains and the trees opened our creativity to the rustic modern approach to mountain furnishings,” Bragg said.

Bragg hails from Tennessee, with Huffman a Kentucky native. As a general contractor and interior designer for over 30 years in The Volunteer State, Bragg eventually crossed paths with Huffman, who himself has been an artisan for more than 25 years. They quickly began to collaborate on numerous projects throughout the Southeast.

“He came aboard on some of my projects and we were able to work well together,” Bragg said. “It’s been close to 10 years that we’ve worked on various projects of interior design and home remodels.”

Several years ago, both of their respective families relocated to Western North Carolina. What was initially a planned as a retirement to Haywood County for Bragg soon turned into the seed being planted for Sawdust + Me when numerous clients started calling Huffman from Waynesville, Cashiers and Sapphire.

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A recent work by Sawdust + Me. Donated photo

“My husband and I moved here thinking I’m not going to work anymore,” Bragg chuckled. “But, Rob kept telling us, ‘There’s a market. We need to do this.’ And he was right, so we dove in — there’s a niche for this work here.” 

Slowly putting the pieces into place to putting down not only personal roots in this area, but also professional, Bragg and Huffman signed the lease on the 147 Depot St. property in August 2022. What followed was an extensive retrofitting of the building it to meet the needs of the company.

“What kind of feel and ambiance are you trying to create with this space?” Bragg said. “It’s important to me that when people walk in, that each space they go into speaks to them in some form.”

To note, the name Sawdust + Me is a reference to Bragg and Huffman, the latter business partner in a seemingly perpetual state of being covered in wood particles. In terms of the wood that’s procured by Sawdust + Me scour Southern Appalachia and beyond for materials that’ll be used to inspire and complete their projects.

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Sawdust + Me houses around 20 different types of wood that can be used for all kinds of projects. Donated photo

“Once you get it milled, then you’re able to see these scars and points in the wood that signify something happened right there,” Bragg said. “Something penetrated the wood and it stayed in the wood, then we try to capture that in a piece.”

Beyond the workshop and storefront, there are also plans in the works to add in a live music and bar component, where a singer-songwriter would perform in the patio area facing Depot Street, all while beverages would be available for purchase.

But, for now, Bragg and Huffman are flipping the sign around on the front door of Sawdust + Me from “Closed” to “Open” with the official launch celebration taking place last month — this literal and figurative gesture at the heart of a long held dream now becoming a reality unfolding within each new day.

“Customer satisfaction is the number one goal — that’s the biggest reward,” Bragg said. “When that customer comes in sees their piece completely finished and say, ‘I knew it would be great, I just didn’t know it would be this great,’ there’s validation that we’ve done the best we could for them — that’s the blessing of it all.”

In need of wood?

Located at 147 Depot Street in Waynesville, Sawdust + Me is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tuesday through Thursday is by appointment only.

For more information, call 828.246.0036 or email Deborah Bragg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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