My introduction to woodworking came at the early age of 6 years old. I remember watching the piles of sawdust gather under my father’s tablesaw. Shaping it into mountains, pushing it around like snow, and taking in the intoxicating aroma of freshly cut wood my addiction was cemented early. I call it an addiction because I’m obsessed with the stuff; wood in all forms: majestic redwoods, sawn lumber, and even firewood all appeal to me.
Many years passed before I was able to put together a workshop of my own. It was in my workshop looking through a book on joinery when I discovered, a school for woodworkers, the Northwest Woodworking Studio and its creator, Gary Rogowski. I felt compelled to take advantage of living so close to the school and such a talented furniture-maker. After completing the two year Mastery Program at the Northwest Woodworking Studio I began taking commission work. It wasn’t until 2010 that I began showing my work at festivals.
Designing and building pieces of furniture is a process which I find stimulates my creativity on many levels. There is the designing of the piece, the engineering of the construction, the execution of a plan, working the wood, and the interaction with the piece after it is completed. Making a piece of furniture fuels the inspiration for the next.
My approach to furniture-making is to make pieces that are finely crafted. Finely crafted furniture will last a lifetime, showcase the beauty of wood, be artfully designed and yet functional. Owning a finely crafted piece of furniture provides a sense of pride to its owner and becomes a touchstone in its owner’s life.
Creating a piece of furniture involves a blend of power and hand tools. The power tools are the grunts of the workshop. The machines are, in today’s modern world, what the apprentices would have been two hundred years ago. They allow me to work quickly through the tedious processes so that I can spend more time applying my skill and creativity to a piece in a way that is appreciated.
I have come full circle with my craft. Now my kids play with the piles of sawdust I make. Additionally, I teach hands-on workshops at the Northwest Woodworking Studio in SE Portland. Recently, one of my cabinets has been published in a book by Lark Publishing titled 500 Cabinets.
Jack Reynolds is a furniture-maker and designer from Beaverton, Oregon.