all about Ken

  


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...


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.


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.


In 2003 my ex wife and I tore down the home that had come with the property and built a new one.  I drew up the design, and did much of the work myself. It was a real opportunity to bring the beautiful materials I work with in my studio, into the 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. 

There is still a lot of work to do.


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!


I can usually be found in my studio, but try to keep some balance in my life. I have always enjoyed animals and enjoy pretending to be a "farmer". I have a yard of hens for eggs, and a couple of cows to mow the pastures and provide steaks in the freezer.  Also, several pigs I 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. I also have a couple of cats, and a dog who is my best friend.


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.

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