Full Recap of 2016

I can’t do what I do without all of you watching and interacting with my content. And of course if I don’t produce the content then you wouldn’t be watching it. So it’s like we’re a team. You and I. You being a part of this team has allowed me to evolve my woodworking hobby into a full-time career that I’m not only proud of but also continuously excited to expand and grow going forward. So for that I say THANK YOU! Lets take a look back at 2016, shall we?

First thing that comes to mind…my workbench

The first thing I think of with woodworking in 2016 is my workbench. A workbench is sometimes seen as the “right of passage” for woodworkers as it’s a foundation tool that entire shops, workflows, or tool selection can be based upon. Since starting woodworking again in 2011 I knew I wanted to build a workbench but never put forth the effort to either buy or build one. The timing just wasn’t right and I didn’t have a set shop location for the future. As I neared the end of 2015 I set aside some time to design and get the workbench complete and started 2016 off with the workbench build. The design I went with was simple but utilized traditional, strong joinery.

What I didn’t anticipate happening was how much the workbench opened my eyes to hand tool woodworking. Having a solid surface that doesn’t wiggle when you plane a board or flop around as you chop with a mallet and chisel is a game changer. As the year progressed I found myself incorporating more hand tools into my workflow not as a way to “become one with the wood” or because “that’s how true craftsman work” but rather because I found more and more situations where a well tuned hand tool was actually the best tool for the task.


I did a lot of collaborations with other online content creators in 2016.

Travelin’ Man

I traveled a lot in 2016. More so than any other year I can remember. I hope to do a lot less of it in 2017 though. Traveling is a really great way to derail momentum and alter schedules.

  1. In April I rode with Shawn Stone to The Woodworking Shows in Atlanta.
  2. In May I drove to Michigan to take my dad to see Guns N Roses at Ford Field. That was a BLAST!
  3. In June I drove to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to collaborate with April Wilkerson and Nick Ferry.
  4. In July I drove to Destin, Florida, to enjoy a few days away from everything with my wife and some friends.
  5. In September I drove to Cincinnati, Ohio for Woodworking In America 2016.
  6. Then I left Cincinnati and drove to Michigan for my sister’s wedding.
  7. In December I rode with Shawn Stone and Jason Barlow to City Hardwoods in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Woodworking Podcast

Nick Ferry, April Wilkerson, and myself started The Woodworking Podcast in early 2016. It started out as a bi-weekly recording that transitioned into a weekly recording. We still occasionally miss a week here and there due to scheduling conflicts but are really enjoying the progress so far. We try to release late on Thursdays or early on Fridays. If you haven’t already, be sure to check it out!

Statistically Speaking…

  • My most viewed video from 2016 was my workbench.
  • My YouTube channel gained 141,920 subscribers in 2016.
  • My YouTube channel received 214,402 likes and 3,740 dislikes on all videos in 2016.
  • Between both the Jay Bates and Jay Bates 2 YouTube channels I uploaded a total of 117 videos in 2016.
  • According to Google Analytics, this website had 5,447,155 page views in 2016.
  • As of New Years Eve (while I’m writing this) this website has a total of 677 posts and 13,763 comments.
  • I started this website 1,390 days ago so that means I’ve averaged one post every 2.05 days since starting this website. Keep in mind that’s just an average. I’ve had a couple week or more stretches of no content.

My Personal Top 5 Favorite Projects of 2016

  1. My workbench.
  2. My chess board box.
  3. My dining table.
  4. Christmas gift boxes.
  5. Bookcase.

The Business Side of Jays Custom Creations

As you may or may not know, Jays Custom Creations is my full-time business. I’m not a “woodworker” by profession but rather a “content creator.” I create videos, articles, and plans for my website for a living. The subject of which is woodworking. This often raises the question of “How do you make money?” Basically, it’s marketing. Advertisements on the YouTube video platform, advertisements on this website, affiliate links with Amazon, an occasional sale of shirts or stickers, and plan sales are how I am able to provide for my family and call this my full-time job.

A lot of people have the misconception that anyone who uploads videos to YouTube is getting rich from sponsorships or paid promotions. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In 2016 I did not have a single paid sponsorship agreement with any company. I’ve had a few free products sent my way in 2016 but that doesn’t help pay the bills. 100% of my 2016 income has been from the content that I created and not from any kind of promotional situation. I’m not opposed to or think less of those who do accept sponsorship situations though. As I’m reading this over I think that this paragraph might come across as arrogant, cocky, or defensive. I hope that it doesn’t. I mainly brought it up as a way of being transparent with you and also show that sponsorships aren’t the only way to grow an online business.

So looking forward to 2017 and how to proceed…. As with any business, the objective is to make a profit and continuously grow the business. As I look back on 2016 I’ve noticed that creating content that is best described as “entertainment for YouTube” has helped my business the least amount and creating content that aligns more with “information and products” has helped my business the most. So does that mean a drastic change for my content in 2017? Probably not. But I really doubt I’ll be sticking to a weekly release schedule for much longer. Instead, I’d like to focus on more of the information and instruction side of how my content is presented.

On a personal note, I had nose surgery on December 29th and am currently a little loopy from pain pills while writing this article. I’m recovering fine but I think the surgery will keep me out of the shop for at least the first week of 2017. So I’m not sure when I’ll publish something next but until then, have a great start to your 2017 and Happy New Year!


  1. I’ve enjoyed your content as well as been inspired and learned a lot from you. You certainly aren’t the only one I’ve learned and been inspired from. There are times when I learn from one set of content creators and then from others another time.

    Sometimes we all need to take breaks and/or adjust our schedules. Or just reexamine our priorities. I don’t know how anyone keeps up with a weekly video release schedule. I think it’s good to get the ball rolling to get a lot of content out there, but very few who release weekly put out good quality content. At least the people that I am aware of.

  2. Jay, glad to hear you did well in 2016. What you and the others do for the wood working community is not an easy thing, yet you always pull it off. I built my shop in 2014, and have slowly been getting it ready for my retirement. I said that in 2016, I was gonna put out a shop video, but much like April, my residence has taken priority of both my shop time, and life. Maybe 2017 will be better.

    You all have been a great influence on what I do, why I do it, and how I do it. As a lifelong handyman, I’ve pulled off some pretty amazing feats. I now have my own built CNC machines, a blast media room, a vinyl plotter, a slew of welders, etc. Now it is time for me, to start producing some of my own videos. I even bought a professional grade camera, because of the quality of the videos you share. Thank you, and God Bless.

    Dave Moffitt
    R&D WoodShop

  3. Dear Jay,

    I am thrilled to see the incredible progress you have made over the last several years. You have grown so much as a craftsman, content provider and person. Your channels, podcasts, and sites are part of my core references when I teach woodworking classes. I am very excited to hear about all of you successes.

    You have earned the respect, trust, and friendship of so many wonderful people, , and I am deeply humbled to call you a friend. Here is wishing you and your wife the very best in 2017.


    P.S. I had a similar nose job done in 1990. If you think the meds make you loopy, wait until the take out all the packing and you are flooded with extra oxygen. I walked around looking drunk for 2 days.

  4. good stuff Jay – been a truly busy year – 2017 should have some goodness in store – keep it man – glad to be able to call you a friend!

  5. Happy New Year Jay. Thanks for all you have shared this past year and before. I’ve a newbie woodworker and have been motivated to continue in this hobby by you perspective in this field.

  6. Jay,
    I wanted to send you a big “thank you” for your work. Your work influences a lot of folks. If I had to pick one thing to thank you for it would be the SketchUp videos. I now consider SketchUp to be the best woodworking tool I have. I wish you a great 2017.

  7. Jay, thanks for the explanation of how Custom Creations works.

    I have enjoyed your channel for several years (including going back to its beginnings).
    Your enthusiasm for the woodworking hobby is key to my enjoyment of the channel, and I always appreciate your fair and even-handed treatment of the products you use.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  8. Great information Jay! Thanks so much for the great content and weekly vlog videos. I watch a lot of “makers” and I appreciate your perspective. It may not feel different to you, but I consider the work that you do unique from other YouTubers. Plus you are the only one that I have purchased plans from. Good luck with your recovery and I hope you have a great 2017!

  9. Wanted to say Thank you Jay! I found your channel and started following you this year. I get excited when new content comes out and really enjoy the way you edit your videos. I learn something or get new ideas from you constantly. I got a dedicated space for a woodworking shop this year and I am in the process of finishing out the interior. I’m super excited to take my hobby to the next level and I plan on building several of the projects you have put forth, such as the Paulk workbench and miter station. Keep up the great work and looking forward to your 2017 projects.

  10. Happy New Years Jay! I have followed you for a couple years now and it’s been fun seeing your skills progress through that time and it’s always encouraging to me to keep pursuing more difficult projects. I like the way you present your content you don’t waste time but focus on the important parts of a project. Keep up the good work!

  11. Great article Jay. Well spoken and I understand more now what you do. Weekly stuff has to be a bugger. You, Nick and April were fun to have here. Know you are always welcome. You all have many talents compared to me. Thanks again for all you do.

  12. Jay
    From someone who has been making things all my life it is very refreshing to see younger people pursuing craftsmanship, especially woodworking. I love your content and look forward to ” Intersting stuff from around the web” every week.
    Keep up the good work and your straight forward approach. May you have a great 2017. Blessings

  13. I can only echo the above words. As only a recent subscriber I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your YouTube videos as well as your blogs and I’m learning a lot of new things, so thank you and keep them coming. Happy New Year to you and your wife…plus all the thousands of followers. May 2017 bring smiles.

  14. I hope you recover quickly from your surgery and have a fantastic year.

    It’s great to see how far you’ve come this year. I stumbled on your channel this summer and you were my entry into the whole YouTube maker/woodworker community. Your channel and podcast with April Wilkerson and Nick Ferry were part of the motivation for starting my own channel a few weeks ago.

    Thanks for everything you do.

  15. Keep it up! I’m sure constantly editing and uploading videos can be tedious at time, but I’ve learned a lot from you. I started woodworking in late 2015 and you are one of the first channels I subscribed to and I’ve always looked forward to your videos. Take care and good luck in recovering from your surgery.

  16. Great recap! As someone who has bought plans from your site and currently using them, I’m thankful for what you do! You inspired me to get into creating Youtube videos. Keep up the awesome work and I’m excited to see what 2017 has in store for you!

  17. What a year, thanks for all you do. I enjoy being entertained by your videos and you’ve done some awesome projects. Your workbench is awesome. Can’t wait to see what you do in 2017!

  18. Hi Jay, you have helped me on my journey of being a new hobbyist woodworker. Thanks for 2016 and wish you a very successful 2017.


  19. Happy New Year Jay! Thank you for sharing the process and 2016 with us. Wishing you a speedy recovery, and a Healthy, Happy, Joyful and Prosperous New Year!

  20. Jay
    I found your channel thru Eric and Dave Rhouten from Oldave100 on YouTube.
    I have to say you make your videos very interesting to view, I do plan on purchasing a few of your plans to up grade and organize my shop.

    Keep up the good work, I wish you and your family a happy New year and have a speedy recovery.


  21. Keep on doing what your doing,your content is great, I really look forwards to Saturday when I get your take on whats new. Hope 2017 is a great year for you and your family.

  22. Happy new year Jay! Wanted to say thanks for all of the great content you put out this year and prior! I discovered your channel not too long ago and what I found most appealing was your down to earth descriptions and approach (has to be functional). The philosophy you share in the beginning of your workbench video (whether you want to work with power tools or 100% hand tools, anybody can build this workbench. Remember glass half full not half empty) really pushed me into picking up woodworking and building a shop. Wishing you a speedy recovery and looking forward to your channel and site in 2017!

  23. Jay, Thank you seems like it just dosen’t cover it but know that it is heart felt. With more time on my hands now I’ve spent a lot of hours learning from you and others in the Youtube community and really appreciate what you all do. When I started in the computer industry 40 years ago I could not have imagined what we do today with technology. I feel lucky to be learning for all these creative bright young minds. Again, thanks for sharing your talents and love for what you do.

  24. Jay,
    I hope you keep doing what your doing and keep up the great videos. I really look foward to the banter and chemistry Nick, April and yourself have on the podcast. I listen as soon as it comes availible on my way to work. It keeps my interest and desire fresh and evolving in my own shop. Heres to a better year in 2017. !!

  25. Happy New Year Jay,

    I have enjoyed watching all your shop “how-to” videos and commentary videos, this year. I am new to watching YouTube videos as of April of this year (after spinal surgery) and have enjoyed watching all that you put through YouTube. In the process of watching you and all the other “YouTubers”, I have learned so much along the way and have set-up my shop with your ideas mixed in with my ideas. It is so nice to have such a knowledgeable woodworking community at the click of a button! I have also enjoyed watching you interact with April Wilkerson and Nick Ferry. I think it’s really great that you interact with so many other “YouTubers”! Thanks again for all your hard work and dedication to your viewers! Hope you heal fast from your nose surgery! Happy New Year!

  26. hi,

    Been there, Done the Surgery thingeemajig. & looking forward to repeat it again. As it’ll be the last one planned. Get well as quickly as you’re able to.

    I always look forward to your offerings & NEED more. To ensure that I’m properly educated!!!


  27. Nice recap, Jay! Well organized, sincere, and informative. It’s you!
    I’m just finishing my bench and I say “Thanks” for showing that it’s OK to use practical materials and methods.

  28. Happy New Year Jay!
    I really enjoying watching your videos! I have learned so much from you! I’m new to woodworking but loving everything about it, my flub ups and all! My next project will be the benchtop router table. And if I ever get a 2 car garage, the workbench will be my first priority to build. Best wishes to you in 2017! And a speedy recovery!


  29. I find your videos informative, helpful and easy to watch/understand.
    I really wanted to comment on you; your personality is so easygoing that sometimes I forget we’ve never met. Your professionalism toward your viewers is natural and your on camera delivery is smooth and not too polished which helps the viewer focus on what you are saying not how you say it. Before retiring in 2008 from Walt Disney World’s Disney University and Disney Institute one aspect of my role(s) was to train cast members in public communication thus my feedback comes from a professional’s point of view.
    Thank you for all the help and inspiration you provided via your blog, and I really enjoy the interesting stuff you find and share from other woodworkers.
    I am looking forward to 2017 and with your help improving my woodworking skills . Happy New Year!
    Regards, R

  30. Jay. You have a large influence that goes way beyond what you can imagine. It is because of you that I watch a true woodworking guy build a boat. He is not the only woodworker who has become someone I follow who you have recommended to me. Without your recommendation, I would’ve missed the Tips form a Shipwright. I find him a fantastic craftsman. He’s just one of many who you have shown to us. I also think that you mesh well with many others who share your passion. I understand the “job” angle of this for your life, and its importance to you. But as one who follows your You Tube presentations, your videos AND your explanations are really what makes you one of the few who I believe when you tell me something. You don’t spread crap. Your opinion matters to many of us. Please keep it up. I wish you all the best for 2017 and beyond.

  31. Enjoyed reading the recap, Jay. Thanks for putting it together!
    I appreciate all of the content this year as well. I have learned a lot, and enjoyed watching and reading.

    Hope you’re resting well after the surgery, and I look forward to more projects soon!

  32. Sounds like the first week of 2017 could be a good chance for you to make one your AMAZING Sketchup video’s. Just saying…

    Seriously, love your channels and website and appreciate all the work you put into them.

  33. I am a novice/ newbie/hobbyist/wood “mangler” I have always consider your content as information&instruction while being entertaining. Looking forward to see the changes in 2017. Best of luck

  34. You have a great channel & as far as I’m concerned you are an excellent woodworker as are many of your peers in the maker market, I personally have gained so much knowledge from viewing YouTube woodworkers that I rate it the absolute educational tool for beginners through to semi pros, professional woodworkers in business may not have the varied experience as amateurs due to being product specific so your knowledge can be broader. Anyway I always spread the word of your site & channel here in Australia when speaking to like minded folk, carry on & I look forward to Jay Bate version 2017, cheers brother

  35. I think it was a very productive year for you! I really enjoyed the videos and will probably end up buying some plans. I really enjoy the podcast all three of you do! It’s well worth my time to listen to it! With your what’s happening on You Tube for the week, I have found that very interesting and it has opened my eyes to other makers on the web. Hope you are recovering well from the surgery. If you are taking the pain pills I think you are, I can only say for one of the side effects, PRUNE JUICE. Lots of prune juice. I look forward to 2017. I will be watching. Aloha from Hawaii


  36. Happy New Year , Jay , I started woodworking in school @ 14 , and I still am wood working as a hobby @ the age of 80.
    I think I have learned more in the last year than I have in the previous 66 years combined ! most through your channel, and others through post on your channel,I look forward to your weekly post every Tuesday , keep it up.
    john m.

  37. I found you and April about the same time. There were other woodworking videos out there, but they were monotone, dull, and boring. Then I watched your video about building a dog house. When you sped the video up for the repetitive building parts and then slowed it down to watch the paint dry and eat a bag of chips, I was hooked! I remember thinking, “If I ever decided to make videos of my work, I’m going to do it like this guy!”
    Thank you for creating GREAT content and sharing of yourself with us. Congratulations on a great year.
    Huge fan.

  38. Hey Jay, thanks for the reflection. Last year I started to becaome a “serious hobbyist woodworker” and your vids are a big part of that. I enjoy all of your content and agree that the instructional vids are great. However, we’re human and everyone needs a break sometimes and the entertainment vids are a nice change up.
    In any case, thanks for the great vids, great plans and great product execution.

    Get well soon!

  39. Happy New Year to you and yours, Jay. Speedy and complete recovery!! You are one of a small handful of craftspersons and artists that keep me coming back to YouTube (and related websites and podcasts) and I look forward to the coming year. Thanks, Jay.

  40. Celebrity woodworkers getting plastic surgery to appeal to the younger female demographic – now I have heard everything! lol

    Seriously though – I have enjoyed the development from pocket holes and 2×4 to ‘serious’ (?) woodwork, your no nonsense approach is fun to watch and I always suggest your channel to people who show any interest in what I am making or doing.

    Keep up the great work Jay, do what makes you happy as it seems to make all of us happy too! Hope 2017 is successful for you and yours

    Cheers from Australia


  41. Jay, keep up the good work, really enjoy your videos. They helped me a lot and gave me inspiration to do projects easier. I had septum and sinus sergeries and they are inconvenient, but the end result will be better and more comfortable. You’ll survive. Hope 2017 will be better for all of us. My best to everyone.

    From Texas,

  42. Jay – great recap. keep up the awesome work and progress, seeing how your skills continue to evolve and improve has given me encouragement that my own skills can continue to improve as well.
    Best of luck in 2017.

  43. Jay,
    Keep doing exactly what your doing. I think your content is excellent and has helped me grow and learn a great deal over the year(s). I have been following you since you started and you have come a long way. I wish you the best in the year to come and hope the family is well.

    On a side note, nose surgery sucks. You wont be able to taste anything for a while, and if they have your nose packed, be prepared when you go for your follow up appointment. When they ripped that stuff out when I had mine, I passed right now.

    Good luck in the New Year!

    From PA with best regards,


  44. You had yourself a pretty busy year! As always, I wish you the best in life, both personally and professionally.

  45. Jay, really have enjoyed your channel and emails. Keep up the good work, really plan to order plans for the miter saw station and work bench.


  46. Thank you for what you do. We follow your videos and podcasts regularly and gain a little more knowledge each time. The surgery may seem like a pain right now, but will be worth It in the long run.
    Best of the season to you and yours, and wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017 and beyond.

  47. I look forward to watching you make stuff in 2017. Your product is easy to watch, learn from and is relevant to what I like to do. All the best in 2017!

  48. Thanks for motivation you provided to build my shop and make creative projects and tools. Keep up the good work in 2017. Robert in Stanwood Washington.

  49. Finally got around to checking out your site after numerous recommendations. I’ve been binge watching all your videos and I must say, I love the work you do! Great variety, accessible projects with finesse and precision. I dig it! I’m very inspired right now!

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