The Art of Furniture Making with David Stine September 2014


Sponsored by Olympic Stain

Since 1938, Olympic® Stains has mastered exceptional protection and durability for all wood types and exterior applications. Here, Olympic Stains celebrates the art of the craft. A true craftsman, David Stine creates custom wood furniture that is uniquely its own. His designs maximize the raw, natural, and singular beauty of the wood—graining, knots, live edges, and all. David is the fourth generation to steward his family’s land, where he sustainably harvests and mills all his own lumber.

Here we sit down with this master craftsman to discuss:

The Art of Furniture Making: From Concept to Execution to Finish

AD360: How did you get interested in furniture making?

DS: I have always worked with my hands. I grew up on a farm in Illinois and we did everything for ourselves. Early on I went into the woods with my father and grandfather to harvest and saw timber, which we would later use to build things—everything from barns to simple furniture pieces.  As it was primarily a dairy farm, it didn’t take me long to realize that furniture making was a much more appealing career than milking cows!

AD360: Where does your inspiration for new pieces come from?

DS: Mostly from the materials themselves. I often see exactly what I will build based upon the form and grain of the wood as it comes off the sawmill. Other times, a piece [of wood] may sit around my shop for years before the right client comes in and I finally see what it was meant to be!

AD360: As an artisan, describe a time you had to tweak your concept during the execution phase of the project.

DS: This happens all the time. I am not a craftsman who constantly builds models and makes sketches. I tweak almost every design while it is a work in progress in order to most effectively meet my clients’ needs, while still honoring and celebrating the natural beauty of the wood.

Recently, a knot showed up in the show face of a large slab I was working with to make a table. The knot had been buried beneath the rough surface of the wood when the client chose the slab for her project, and only revealed itself during the planing and flattening process. Instead of rejecting the slab at this point, the client and I chose instead to proceed with the project and make the knot—and its interesting grain—a focal point of the table.  It turned out great!!

AD360: Why is the right finish so important?

DS: Finish is so important because it is the final step in the crafting of any piece from the maker’s perspective, while at the same time it is the first thing a client or user of the piece interacts with. The finish is the interface between the hand of the user of the piece and the hand of the maker. A beautiful and finely executed piece can be destroyed by improper finishing. Conversely, a great finish can only improve on the beauty, longevity, and utility of any piece!

AD360: Any tips for finishing furniture? Dos? Don’ts?

DS: My most basic and fundamental tip is don’t try to match anything! Clients set themselves and their craftsmen up for failure by asking that a new piece match an old one. Let each piece shine on its own terms and the natural honest materials and craftsmanship will always complement your surroundings.


[note ]: Olympic Stain is for exteriors only and not appropriate for indoor furniture.

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