I rented a small shop space in an old furniture factory, and got pretty good at making guitars. I sold a few, and it gave me something to do when I wasn’t off playing shows. Then my girlfriend (who is now my wife) remembered how her stepdad used to carve wooden spoons for her mom, and asked me if I could do that for her. I had no idea where to start, but there was plenty of scrap wood around, so I decided to give it a try. The first ‘spoon’ I made was actually a spatula. When I walked out to my car at the end of the day, I happened to show it to a friend. After holding it for a second, he said, “I’ll take two”. It was the first order of many; during the fall of that year I went to work at 8am and left at 5pm, and did nothing but make wooden spoons. Each one was unique; they all sold.
The first furniture
A few years earlier, when there was work to be done on my street, the city of Grand Rapids had to cut down my favorite old maple tree. Thinking guitars, I asked the arborist if I could have some of the wood. I remember watching in awe as they cut sections of the branches off for me, the beautiful colors and grain making me dream of the instruments I would create. Not really knowing why, I also asked for a large section to be cut from the trunk. I kept this in my garage for about four years until one day, when I was browsing the internet, I saw a piece of furniture made by a friend of mine who owned a design shop. My thoughts immediately went to the maple in my garage, so I asked him if he could show me how to build a table. This he did; that project turned into an internship, and getting hired full time in a custom design shop. I soaked up all I could about woodwork, metalwork, and how to finish a piece. It’s not a bad deal at all when you get to practise your developing skills on a 9-foot long live edge walnut table…
A new beginning
When my wife and I found out we were having a baby I knew things would have to change. Remembering our rural roots, and wanting our kids to have those same kinds of memories, we sold her house in the city and bought an 1800s farmhouse with a barn. During this time, I was influenced by the work of George Nakashima, and books like ‘A Reverence for Wood’ by Eric Sloan, and ‘A Handmade Life: In search of simplicity’ by William Coperthwaite. I worked for a year in a cabinet shop and learned a great deal – including that this wasn’t to be my path. I was starting to realize that for me, woodworking wasn’t about earning a living, so much as a way of living.
A life's work
It is now my privilege to work with clients to create things of lasting beauty, meaningful things, useful things. Furniture, cabinets, counters, keepsakes… the list goes on. If you can imagine it, I can build it. I once carved a spoon for someone out of a tree their grandfather had planted. Another client told me they had the beams from their grandparents’ barn, and together we decided to use them for making a table. If all you have is an idea, we can write a song together and usher it into the reality of form and function. We can create something that wasn’t here before, that will remain in the world for a very long time, and that will forever be part of your story.