I’m proud to have an article in the December issue (#229) of Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Offerman Woodshop Book Just Released!
After a year of hard work and some good fun, we have just launched a coffee table book called Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop on sale now at your local bookstore or at the Offerman Woodshop online store or find tickets & info for the LA book launch party Nov 13 here.
I had the pleasure to work with some of my best friends, esteemed colleagues, my cousin Sally, and my dog Gus on this creative collaboration.
And, I got to write my own chapter about my path to woodworking, and an instructional on building my dream bed. Thanks to Nick for sharing these pages and his shop with us, and thanks to the fine folks at Penguin Books for making this dream come true!
Building a slab lamp with Jane Parrott for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
Now if only woodworking went this fast in real life!
Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls visit the shop today!
Smart Girls will be live streaming from the shop today–tune in on facebook!
Associated Press article on Windfall Exhibit
Group Show at Craft and Folk Art Museum
LA Box Collective is having a furniture show at the Craft and Folk Art Museum here in Los Angeles this Summer. Everything in the show is made from trees that have come down in local storms–hence the exhibition title, “Windfall“. I am collaborating on a pair of claro walnut end tables for the show with my long time friend and woodworking colleague, JD Sassaman. We built the wood elements at my shop in LA, and I am now traveling to JD’s shop, Pier 9 in San Francisco, to do some 3D printing and casting of the interactive granite elements. Here’s a sneak peek of the piece in process. The show runs from May 29-September 4th.
Furniture Society Conference 2016
A conversation that began on the backcountry trails of the Southern Sierras last summer has now found a formal “front country” outlet. Myself and two of my favorite colleagues and backpacking companions–JD Sassaman and Laura Zahn–will be discussing our different models of running collaborative wood shops at this year’s Furniture Society Conference in Philadelphia. The panel takes place on June 23rd, and will be facilitated by Sarah Marriage.
Introduction to Furniture Making Workshop
Teaching with Reclaimed Timbers at CSULB
A couple years ago, a local woodworker/artist named Ryan Taber contacted Offerman Woodshop about a woodworking program at Cal State University Long Beach that he was in the process of bringing back to life. Shortly thereafter, Ryan came to the shop for an informal tour and soon we were all gathered around him in the break room, hot beverages flowing, listening to him describe a unique wood program and pedagogic vision that, had I been ten years younger, would have sent me running to the office of matriculation. As it happened, three of the Offerman Woodshop members sitting in that room that day–myself, Michele Diener, and Laura Zahn–have since joined the part-time faculty.
One of the most exciting aspects of the wood program at CSULB that Ryan spoke of that day, was the reclaimed urban timber component of
the curriculum. Established by Ryan’s predecessor Fred Rose, and run with the help of the campus arborist Brian McKinnon, this program saves ill or fallen trees in the campus forest from the usual fate of the woodchipper and landfill, allowing students and faculty of the Wood program to mill these trees into usable lumber for student projects. Since Ryan became director in 2013, he estimates that they have milled about twenty trees including Red Gum, Lemon scented gum, Iron Bark Eucalyptus, California Pepper, Chinese Elm, Black Locust, Oak, Ash, Indian Laurel Fig, Magnolia, Podocarpus, Red Wood, and Olive. This Fall, the students in my Introduction to Woodworking course got to both mill a freshly fallen tree into slabs and to build stools from air dried slabs of California pepper milled by students a couple years prior.
While traditional woodworking & joinery places a high premium on technical precision and pragmatic forethought, working with slabs forces students to be flexible and adaptive. Each slab has a unique set of challenges and defects that have to be navigated and problem-solved. Each slab also has its thrilling visual surprises hidden under the silvered rough-cut surface. My student Rachel Curray describes the revelatory process of sanding and oiling her slab: “I was blown away by how the colors of the grains came to life… It was gorgeous! The greens and purples that I admired so much when I
initially saw the milled pepper wood showed more vibrantly with every coat of oil”.
Finished stool–CA Pepper slab top, mahogany keys, hand-shaped stained poplar legs: Rachel Curray, 2015
The process of working with an organic slab is also much more sculptural and intuitive than working with dimensional lumber. Rather than concentrating exclusively on squaring up every piece of wood, students get to work with the natural, organic shape of the slab. Wood BFA Martin Hernandez says of building his slab stool, “Working in conjunction with the language of the wood grain and personality of the pepper tree slab, I took to my unconventional style of working and had a “conversation” with the wood…I used different methods of forming the slab between hand planers, electric planers, spoke shave, chisel, gouge, and angle grinder with various attachments using everything at my disposal to create a form that I was satisfied with.”
Finished stool–CA Pepper top, maple and mahogany butterfly keys, stained poplar legs: Martin Hernandez, 2015
Through this program, my students learned about sustainable building practices (when a tree becomes furniture rather than landfill, it retains carbon rather than releasing it into the environment). They also got to “have a conversation” with an organic living material–responding to the visual surprises of its surface, its organic shape, and its structural imperfections. The California State University system is struggling financially and it’s amazing what Ryan has been able to do with such a tight budget. Many thanks to Saburr-Tooth for donating the carving and shaping tools used on this project. The program is in need of new milling equipment including new chainsaws and a larger Wood-Mizer or Lucas Mill. For any other information or donations, please contact Ryan Taber at Ryan.Taber@csulb.edu
“Build Your Own Damn Stool Kit” in the LA Times
Thanks to the Los Angeles Times for featuring my Build Your Own Damn Stool Kit as part of their 2015 holiday gift guide. Sold through our Offerman Woodshop collective online store, this kit is the first in a new line of products/projects I’m developing which allows people to construct their own furniture using simple, traditional all-wood joinery. Its like the Ikea of the 1800′s–wedges, mallets, and wood shavings. Click on images to see full gift guide.