Hank Hambright was born in Washington, D.C. and raised on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia where he attended Glynn Academy high school. He attended Warren Wilson college in Asheville, North Carolina where he got degrees in Environmental Science and Forestry and worked at the campus sawmill. He is the co-owner of Heavy Friends with his partner Lindsay. You can see their beautiful work on their website, HeavyFriends.com. Hank is also a musician and plays with the band Marses. He lives in the Boulevard District with Lindsay, their dog, Emma, and two cats.
What inspired you or led you to your current career?
Well, I was working at the Royal Peasant Pub and I knew Zach Brendel who owns Oneta Woodworks through some people, and I knew that he was losing his helper. So, I asked him if he needed a new guy. I had been familiar with wood but not building…just from cutting trees and working in the sawmill at my college. I caught on to it pretty quickly, and I started doing carpentry with him. We were building decks, replacing windows, general residential carpentry. That turned more into doing lots of trim, that turned more into doing restaurants, we have done a ton of restaurants in town. Then, that turned into me being in the shop building tables for restaurants or whatever, and just kind of being around all of the tools I started to just challenge myself to do more of the hand tool work, such as dovetails and mortise and tenons. As I was learning more and more, we started building more and more furniture. A little more than two years ago, the space we are in now opened up, there was a cabinet builder in here and I was just working right next door at Oneta. He was moving away and selling his tools, so I hopped in here, took over and started Heavy Friends and maybe six months after that Lindsay left her job to come join me.
Where does the name come from?
It is a song by this Japanese metal band called Boris. They have a song called Heavy Friends, it is a really great song. Then, myself and two of my friends have “Heavy Friends” tattooed on us. We live in a town that celebrates music so much, and here is a way to just kind of show I love music and woodworking.
What is your favorite restaurant in Athens, and what do you love there?
Probably, The Grit. We go to Maepole a lot, I love Maepole. I love Hi-Lo. I am a vegetarian. I like any place it is easy to eat as a vegetarian. I like any place that has punks working there, but I really love any place I can walk Emma there and eat outside. The Golden Bowl with cheese and vegetables at The Grit.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Probably Japan. I have been once, I haven’t done very much world traveling, but I have been to Japan and I have been to China. I am very interested in Asia because it is so…foreign. I would love to go back to Japan, I would love to go to Central Asia, Nepal or Pakistan or any of the “stans.” I would love to trek around the Himalayas. It is just so remote and so isolated.
What is your favorite movie, or what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theatre?
I was obsessed with Star Wars as a child. I still really like Star Wars. I also really love Twelve Monkeys, Brazil. Terry Gilliam flicks.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
My advice to my past self would be to have started playing the guitar at a younger age. I waited until I was fifteen, and I could be really shredding right now. My dad got me one when I was really young, it was before I wanted it, and I never played it. It got stolen out of his car, and I didn’t bother getting another one. Then, seven years later I wanted a guitar, and now it is a huge passion of mine, but I could have maybe been a virtuoso if I would have stuck to it back then.
If you could have a billboard what would it say?
If you could see any band, anywhere, dead or alive, who would it be and where?
One of my favorite bands, my first tattoo was artwork from this band called Page 99. They are a punk band, and they broke up probably in 2001 or something like that. So, that would be a cool band to time travel and go see in somebody’s basement somewhere.
What is your favorite thing to do in Athens when you are not working?
Walking to Campus. We take a lot of walks. North Campus is awesome. I go there with Emma, especially when school is not in session or late at night. I love that. I like the Greenway, I really like Sandy Creek and luckily we live close enough that we can just get on the Greenway really quick. I am really excited about the Firefly Trail. When that is completed, I imagine I will bike more.
What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I am very interested in math, calculus especially related to physics that is kind of a hobby of mine. I was not very strong in math in high school, but in college I was really good at calculus. It is not even that mathematical. I mean there are very few numbers. It is wild. It is really, really crazy stuff.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home”?
Right now it would be dusty, work and companion. That is kind of what Lindsay and I do, is just work on the house together. It is a crazy place, I have never lived anywhere like it, but I am just used to it. This is home now.