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. 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


  2. 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,

  3. 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.

  4. 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,


  5. 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.


  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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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