THEY WERE DOING
IT IN TEXAS
By utilizing a variety of techniques in addition to excellence in traditional woodworking, I seek to create unique and functional works of art. Extremely dense native hardwoods, resin and glass inlays, turquoise stone inlays, and custom black flat bar steel table legs that I fabricate are a few of my specialties. For my epoxy resin inlays, I only use the highest quality resin from Resin Research, a company based in Tucson founded by Greg Loehr, a pioneer in the surf industry of ultra clear UV-resistant epoxies. I use epoxy resin as fill material in cracks and channels and try to minimize the amount I use so that it doesn't dominate, letting the wood be the true star. I make streams, not rivers or canals. I have done limited work with glass inlays in the Klassen tradition, and am looking to expand that. For rivers and lakes in tables, I believe glass is a better medium than resin.
A native of Florida who has also lived in North Carolina and California, I developed my woodworking skills while spending ten years living in Oaxaca, Mexico. I worked there with large slabs of guanacaste/parota, a huge tropical shade tree similar to monkeypod. I presently make my home in San Antonio, Texas where I work primarily with Texas native hardwoods like mesquite, ash, white oak, hackberry, red oak, live oak, and pecan. Perhaps my favorite of all is a wood rarely used by woodworkers, ulmus crassifolia, a rock hard southern elm. It commonly goes by the misleading name of cedar elm, though it has nothing in common with cedar. My uncle Mark Reno taught me chainsaw milling and was a great inspiration to me as a frontier-style outdoorsman, recycler, and carpenter. His close friend Barry Massin was another of my inspirations, a renowned Miami "industrial artist" who was always a never-ending whirlwind of creativity and manic enthusiasms.
I source my wood personally by harvesting it myself, and try to chainsaw mill dead trees wherever possible that would otherwise end up in landfills or burned. My goal as an artisan woodworker is to create sustainably-resourced quality work with native materials. Most commercially produced furniture is produced by denuding the rainforests of SE Asia and elsewhere, with labor that is lucky to make $1 per hour. Dependent for so long on cheap imports and/or massive economy-of-scale production, many Americans have lost sight of what the true value of artisan woodworking is by the standards and wages of our own society. These are pieces meant to be appreciated and handed down for generations. Every step of the process from harvesting the raw wood to sanding out the finished product is done by one person, me. No expensive machinery, no low paid helpers. Just an enormous amount of labor and love.
The extreme hardness of the Texas woods I work with is quite different than most American hardwoods. Mesquite is the third hardest common native hardwood in the US, and live oak is the first. Pecan, white oak, and cedar elm are all incredibly hard woods as well. They take a serious toll on cutting edges and are labor intensive, requiring extensive sanding time. Standard northern hardwoods like cherry, elm, and black walnut are half as hard as mesquite and a third as hard as live oak. The fine sanded finish is often glass-like, without addition of lacquers or solvent based sealants, only coated with my custom blend of mineral oil and beeswax, There is nothing that reveals the natural beauty of wood so much as a simple oil and wax finish. I'm dedicated to working with creative artistic techniques but maintaining traditional woodworking beauty while doing so.