West Virginia South April - May 2019 - Page 45

Adkins is a skilled woodworker who specializes in custom furniture, but previously operated his own Fayetteville store, Leland Guitars. If you walked into his woodshop right now, you'd see a dizzying array of items, some music-related, many not. There's a finished, beautifully constructed banjo with a fretboard featuring diamond-shaped inlays made from the same maple from which the instrument's pot — its round lower body — was crafted. Guitars hang on the wall in various stages of completion; Adkins restores them in addition to building them from square one. For years, he toured with a guitar he hand-created for him- self. For the most part, though, you'll see home furnishings that clients have asked him to build to their specifica- tions: a farmhouse-style dinner table, a coat rack, a head- board, a bookshelf, a maple butcher block. You'll also see a workspace filled end to end with attractive handmade cutting boards, which Adkins and his son, Avram, built together. (Avram, 7, knows his way around a table saw, planer and drill press, and he's learned to glue, sand and oil the boards himself.) Adkins crafts his woodwork like he crafts his songs, in a style that's sturdy, functional and uncomplicated. When he can, he uses wood from West Virginia, or even from his own property. "I'm an understated builder," he says. "I like simple, sleek, almost Shaker-style designs." The same goes for his handmade guitars. He glues the braces to the soundboard uncarved, carves them to get the specific sound he seeks, then 'tap tunes' the sound- board before gluing it to the guitar's body. In the end, each instrument he constructs has its own distinct quali- ties that make it one-of-a-kind. For Adkins, it ultimately comes down to the music. He's precise in his songwriting, and he says he's increas- ingly selective about taking on gigs, too. So it seems nat- ural that he'd put just as much thought — and as much functionality — into the tools he brings to the stage. Or, as he puts it, "I don't want people to come after up a show and say, 'Your guitar's beautiful.' I want them to say, 'Your guitar sounds amazing.'" APRIL-MAY '19 ❖ SOUTH ❖ 45