Custom Woodworker Now a Pine Beetle Furniture Star

By Bill Esler | Posted: 12/01/2012 11:46AM


  DENVER - Woodsmith and Azure Furniture founder Corbin Clay is featured in this weekend's Wall St. Journal, as a trendsetter in helping popularize beetle-kill pine wood furniture. The wood features a distinctive blue cast.

Clay founded the aptly named Azure Furniture, Inc. in 2009, with a mission to introduce beetle kill pine into the modern furniture market, making use of lumber from some of the millions of acres of pine beetle killed trees while breathing life into furniture production and design.

Currently Clay is also one of five finalists in Ketel One Vodka's Gentleman's Call competition (the prize is $100,000), cited in the nomination for making the blue-tinged beetle-killed pine furnishings trendy, while helping the wood industry and the environment. In Denver building cabinets and buying furniture tinged with the azure-colored wood from the beetle's larvae has become a popular design style.


The latest media positioning reflects Clay's smart use of brand marketing, vital in growing his young business. He sells his furniture in an online store, with pieces ranging from $309 for an end table to $1,199 for a dining table. Azure Furniture also sells cabinets, bookcases and media storage furniture.

"I was fortunate enough to receive my training from a German master craftsman," Clay says in an online interview. His shop offers "a nice blend of high end craftsmanship with the speed and efficiency of a  mass-production shop."

In a video (below) he shows viewers around his shop, filled with familiar  tools of the custom woodshop trade, both hand tools and power tools such as a DeWalt chop saw, Delta boring drill, Oneida dust collection system, and sliding table saw.

He sources some wood from the Hester's Log and Lumber Company, which specializes in processing beetle-kill lumber and provides wood Aspen, Lodgepole Pine, Engleman Spruce and Douglas Fir trees.

 "Our goal was to take wood from the four millions acres of dead pine trees we have in Colorado and use that as an inexpensive material to build heirloom quality affordable furniture," Clay says. “Why cut down living trees when there are so many standing dead?”

Clay says 100% of the beetle kill pine used in his production is Colorado-sourced, mostly from Summit and Grand counties. Wood finishes and powder coating are both formaldehyde-free. Low-VOC coatings are allowed to completely off-gas before shipping. Laminates are developed from recycled paper, and applied to surfaces with Greenguard certified contact adhesive.


About the Author

Bill Esler, Woodworking Network, WMS

Bill Esler

Bill Esler, Editorial Director, Woodworking Network Bill is responsible for overall content at Woodworking Network magazine, and related newsletters. Bill also manages event programs for Woodworking Network Live conferences at the Woodworking Machinery & Supplies Expo in Toronto and Cabinets & Closets Expo. He developing audience engagement programs using custom digital printing, live lead-generating events, custom websites, and custom digital and print content. Read Bill Esler's woodworking blogs. He can be reached at or follow him on Google+.

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Corbin Clay    
Denver CO  |  December, 02, 2012 at 10:39 AM

Wow...What an incredible to honor to be featured! I remember, almost 10 years ago, sitting in the break room of Knothole Creations in Clearwater, FL leafing through CWB, hoping to one day produce something worthy of being recognized. Thank you so very much for your interest and consideration. I am truly humbled. What credit and validation you have offered to the company and our mission. Thank you even more for that. Very Best, Corbin C. azure furniture, inc

Georgia  |  December, 05, 2012 at 08:48 AM

"Clay says. 'Why cut down living trees when there are so many standing dead?'" Darn good question. Would that someone had listened when Alaska had millions of acres of dead Spruce from fires, just waiting to be harvested. But NOooo.... We couldn't let those evil capitalists make any money.

Jerry Naro    
Nederland, Colorado  |  December, 05, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Congratulations Corbin! First, it's very exciting to see a Colorado woodworker being nationally honored. Second, it's also gratifying to see the beetle kill (blue stain) pine being recognized and utilized in some artistic fashion other than being used for just firewood, wood pellets or stick furniture. You understand the problems and pitfalls which are unknown to most that must be overcome by the few of us working with the beetle kill pine especially when using it for higher quality products. The longevity of the tree just standing in the forest can lead to all sorts of issues. The ability to secure quality logs and graded lumber is difficult. Sawmills don't want to cut it because the yields are so poor. Most mills lose money for every thousand board feet of lumber cut. Then there's the problem of kiln drying. If you don't own a kiln or know of one you have to settle for air dried lumber. Then of course there's the marketing strategy. Especially if you market out of the area. Most people don't even know what it is or that the wood can be used in these types of higher end products. Marketing this wood means education usually has to come first. Perhaps your nomination (and win) will also help bring recognition to the other craftsman out there who have had the passion and dedication for many years, like yourself, to work with this beautiful medium. Best regards, Jerry Naro Whispering Wind Designs Nederland, Colorado

Interested Reader    
Texas  |  December, 06, 2012 at 09:20 AM

Very interesting article. Would like references to other uses of dead standing timber. I live in Texas and there is a massive number of trees that have been killed and are dying from the recent drought and it would be interesting to see what use could be made of these trees.

Web site visitor    
USA  |  December, 06, 2012 at 09:21 AM

I wish that the video clip had been longer. It was that interesting.

CH  |  December, 06, 2012 at 02:39 PM

Very nice article and informative video. Should have been wearing safety glasses at the table saw - may go from a one man shop to a one man one eye shop.


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