Meet Izzy Swan of Greenville, the YouTuber who builds wacky contraptions — from a rideable T-Rex powered by a drill to a clothes-folding machine. Swan has over 620,000 subscribers to his educational channel that shares money-saving tips and woodworking projects.
As a fifth-generation craftsman, Swan knows his way around the workshop. “When you build something with your hands and there’s a product at the end of that task … there’s nothing else like it,” he says.
Whether he’s building his latest invention or working in his hydroponic vegetable garden, Swan never stops working with his hands. Welding, 3D printing, woodworking, robotics, engineering — he does it all.
“I’m just mechanically inclined and interested in engineering. I call myself an amateur engineer, though that might be a little overly generous,” he says with a laugh.
As Greenville Center for Creative Arts expands its 3D offerings into a new space for ceramics, jewelry, metals, and woodworking, Swan will teach courses in woodworking.
Traditional woodworking, as well as technical skills with CNC (computer numerical control) and 3D printing, will be taught at GCCA.
“I think more and more that people are going to start recognizing that technology and good old-fashioned hard work are kind of coming together,” he says. “Hopefully that’ll bring some new people and some new interest in this work.”
Professionally, Swan works as a consultant specializing in process and production manufacturing. He enjoys being his own boss. “If I’m going to do something, I want the blood, sweat, and tears to be owned by me — whether it works or doesn’t work.”
For 15 years, he owned a furniture manufacturing company until the 2008 stock market crash led to him selling the company. So, now when people ask Swan what he does for a living, he always replies with, “I’m a furniture designer.”
But that only scratches the surface. In addition to managing his YouTube channel, which pays for his workshop and “toys,” Swan owns the online community Makers Playground.
“There’s something about the act of creation that is in everybody,” he says. “I think that in some way, shape, or form, we all have it in our bones.”
Swan says people value things more if they build them. That “aha” moment and sense of accomplishment is what Swan enjoys giving to others through sharing his knowledge.
“I could do this for 500 years and learn something new every day,” he says. “There’s so much stuff to learn.”
His most popular video shows how to make a small picnic table that folds into a box smaller than a beer cooler within a few seconds. Some other interesting builds of Swan’s include a giant bulldog, three Velociraptors, and a bowling ball made on a table saw.
“Right now I’m building a multidirectional, six-legged robot,” he says. Next on his to-build list is a wooden Ferris wheel and a Model T pickup powered by a golf cart motor.