What’s Up South Texas!: Man uses gift of woodworking to reshape sound of music

Will Oliver has made customized guitar picks for thousands of musicians and music companies

San Antonio – One San Antonio man is mixing his passion for music and woodworking to help the guitar-playing community.

Will Oliver, 46, owner of Oliver Woodworks, makes customized, wooden, magnetic guitar picks.

“I started off making rings in 2008 or 2009,” Oliver said. “I was also playing my guitar more and more.”

He said during that time, he realized the sound of a plastic guitar pick bothered him.

“Holding on to a small plastic pick and hearing the clanks, it didn’t jive with me and I wanted something more stout,” Oliver said. “So, I started making my own wooden picks and I found they gave amazing sound on a guitar, especially the acoustic.”

He began designing different picks with the different wood he would find.

“Anytime I wanted a different sound or a different timber, I used a different wood,” Oliver said. “I get just blocks or veneers or something like that and then I take it from there and reshape it.”

He said woodworking has always been therapeutic for him.

“I usually follow the grain of the wood and I will start something and don’t know what it is until it is done,” Oliver said. “Sometimes, I will trash something, I break something, I will mess stuff up, I will wreck my hands, and something comes out and it is very rewarding because it is nothing I expected it to be. The cutting, the polishing, the sanding, and you look at the final product and you are like, ‘Man that is cool!’ Then, when it is something like a guitar pick, and somebody else likes it, that is what I love.”

Oliver makes anything from rings, lamps, little figurines and more.

He said his best discovery, by far, is the wooden picks.

“You know every wood has a different sound,” Oliver said. “You can really create a whole different sound for yourself. That has been really cool when people come back and say, ‘I dig this.’”

Oliver, who has given away thousands of guitar picks to those in the music industry, said helping others has a deeper meaning to him.

He himself needed help years ago when he was battling an opioid addiction.

“I am lucky to have come through that because many people don’t,” Oliver said. “It is all thanks to my family and friends. I had neck surgery, got hooked on pills and it went from there. At the same time, I had my own curiosities, and made things worse. I tried to quit many, many times. It takes a lot of sitting in the tub, looking up at God and praying, ‘Get me out of this.’ I realized that I don’t need that in order to move on with my life because there was a time where that was the only thing that was getting me out of bed.”

Oliver was lost to addiction but has since found the gifted man he is today.

He hopes his story encourages others to follow what they love to live a happier life.

“I hope everybody finds what God put them here for,” Oliver said. “I pray for that all the time. I don’t know if I am doing it. God, I hope so! If not, I’ll find it.”

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About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.