All About Ken

One of my father's more recent projects.

I have always enjoyed working with my hands. Some of my earliest memories are of making and flying balsa airplanes with my father. He worked for Boeing and was a member of their model airplane club. There were a spectrum of planes - from hand launch and tow line gliders, to rubber powered prop planes in many shapes and sizes. We even made very delicate stick and tissue rubber powered planes that we flew indoors, in places like school gymnasiums in the winter.

By the time I was in my teens, I was making small projects in the garage with the few shop tools my father had accumulated. My father tended to work on occasional projects as opposed to always having something going. I took one very important lesson from his examples - do everything to the best of your ability.

In my late teens, I was living in a mobile home in a trailer park. A friend of a friend was moving to the east coast and had a shop full of woodworking equipment he needed to sell. A classic "deal you can't pass up". I pooled my resources and bought it all. It was a few years before I had a place to set up all the equipment - but there is always the parents garage...

Ken's studio

By my mid twenties, I had purchased 5 acres in Maple Valley WA - just down the road from my parents place. I was now working for Boeing as a draftsman. I converted an old barn on the property into my new shop. I was in the shop every spare minute I had. Most of my early work was small - boxes, frames, toys. Slowly I shifted from giving things away to selling small, then larger projects. After 6 years at Boeing I took the plunge and started woodworking full time.

In the early 90's, there was a fire. The barn, all my tools and equipment, and the biggest furniture project I had done to date - were gone. My current studio rose from those ashes. It was a difficult time, but the new studio gave me the room to take my work to a level I would not have been able to achieve in the old barn.

Padauk jewelry box

Early in my career, I worked mainly with domestic hardwoods - Walnut, Cherry, Maple, etc. I thought they were wonderful. One day I received a call from one of my lumber suppliers. He had a stack of a wood called Koa, if I took the whole stack, he would make me a great deal. The rest, as they say, is history.

I was hooked on exotic woods.

Most of the woods I work with come from equatorial areas. Koa grows in the Hawaiian Islands. With today's global market there are literally hundreds of species of woods available. They run the full spectrum of the rainbow. Many are stunningly beautiful. When I built my studio I devoted the whole bottom floor to lumber storage. Five years later I added a new wing to the studio - my lumber racks were already full. I also added facilities and machinery to do my own milling and drying.

Timberframe roof trusses in our home.

In 2003 my wife and I tore down our old home and built a new one.  I drew up the design, and we did much of the work ourselves. It was a real opportunity to bring the beautiful materials I work with in my studio, into our home environment. I made timber framed trusses with beams of clear, old growth Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar. Other interior spaces have allowed me to bring in woods like Maple, Teak, Afromosia, Imbuya, Wenge, and Birdseye Maple.

I'm not done yet - just ask my wife...

I have always worked alone. My furniture designs tend to be fairly formal. All are made from solid wood - no veneers. I spend much of my time working with hand tools - carving and shaping. As I have developed skills with hand tools, I have found that this time - quiet time, is about as good as it gets.

This love of hand tool work can be seen in the progression of my designs. Over the years they have become more and more sculptural. My focus on fine detailing has become even more pronounced. Recently I expanded my design spectrum to include purely sculptural pieces. I have found letting go of the functional requirements  inherent in furniture to be very liberating and great fun!

Ken carving a Walnut rocker seat

I can usually be found in my studio, but try to keep some balance in my life. Our 5 acre place outside of Seattle, allows us to pretend to be farmers. I have always enjoyed animals. We have a yard of hens for eggs, a couple of cows to mow the pastures and provide steaks, and pigs we purchase as weaners in the spring and raise through the summer before they too must head for the freezer.

There is a beautiful pond that sits just in front of my studio. It is alive with water fowl all year round. We also have a couple of cats, and a dog who is the love of our lives.

My other passion is climbing. I can be often found hanging by my finger tips from one of our local cliffs. My wife is also very active, but traded in climbing for trail running many years ago. She is incredibly good at it and still getting better. Her longest run so far was a little over 240 miles. She has done more than 50 races of over 100 miles and is nearing 500 races marathon distance or more. Yikes!

I feel very fortunate to do what I do for a living. My work is much more than a job to me - it is my passion.

Thanks for your interest.