I am a native Vancouver Islander who knew when I was quite young that I wanted to be woodworker. I began reading Fine Woodworking magazines at the age of 14 and am mostly self taught. I have been working at the craft for the past 25 years and have built my dream shop in the Cowichan Valley where I work in both wood and steel. I specialize in making furniture using the island's native wood such as Arbutus, Garry Oak and Western Maple. Because many species are protected, the wood is only available if the tree has fallen naturally or if and arborist has been involved to determine that the tree can be removed. I consider these woods precious resources. When I am able to select the log, mill it and dry the lumber, I know the wood's history which I can relate to my clients.
What drives me is the continuous opportunity to challenge my skill level. I am constantly working at making my shop more efficient and increasing my technical capabilities. I also enjoy the problem solving aspect of working on a complex piece. I mix old techniques with modern, depending on what I am trying to accomplish. Sometimes I will use a computer router for the accurate cutting of inlays or curves and other times I will use hand shaping techniques which produce a higher level of quality that can't be achieved with machines. I love the tools and the sawdust and the whole process.
My wife, Pamella, and I have been designing together since we met in 1993. Like other designer/makers, we learn from and are inspired by past masters and contemporary furniture makers alike. Our goal is to have the pieces speak for themselves: details should be subtle and understated but most importantly, the furniture needs to function well, not just look good. We strive to create the right proportions but there must also be an inherent beauty that draws the viewer to want to touch the piece because wood is such a tactile material.
There is a level of trust between the client and the furniture maker. Our clients select us because they like our design sensibilities and feel we listen to their ideas and instructions. Each commission is an exciting opportunity to explore a different design direction. We seek out new ideas and ever increasing technical challenges. Our furniture designs have evolved but a similar theme carries through. We describe our aesthetic as being timeless. People who choose to have custom furniture made are often interested in seeing the work at various stages of the production. Our clients are always welcome to visit the shop to see how their project is coming along.
I love to build chairs and have made a few hundred in a variety of designs over the past several years. A recent commission was for a set of dining chairs where we amalgamated a few Danish modern designs that we like. We named our chair the Hans 57 after the Danish furniture designer/maker, Hans Wegner but the inter-locking joinery details can be attributed to another master, Sam Maloof. The result is an extremely comfortable chair with a familiar look. For Pam and I, a successful design brings enormous satisfaction and provides us the momentum to continue designing and making studio furniture.
I have been adding metal elements to my furniture portfolio awhile. Steel makes an excellent partner with wood and allows design flexibility. The design can be airy and graceful because the steel provides the necessary structural integrity. This boardroom table is a good example; the wood top is very heavy yet the piece looks open and light. The table expands from the middle as the steel bases roll on ball bearings in the bottom frames. Two leaves can be added to the top to a maximum length of 14"-0" overall. Nickel plating on the steel and diamond shaped cast glass inserts add sophistication to the design.
For the EK Dining Table, I wrapped the tapered oak legs with steel and created a steel under frame to support the oak top. Exposed bolts add a visual detail to the skirt and heat treating the metal achieves a wonderful blue colour. The steel's strength allowed us to create an elegant, slightly industrial looking design.