Minnesota woodworker Jason Holtz spent several years working as an apprentice with chair maker Jeff Miller in Chicago before building his own client base and returning north to set up his own shop, J. Holz Furniture, in St. Paul.
“It’s a way of letting the wood speak for itself while doing as little as possible to mess it up in the process,” Holtz says.
His Kay table, which features a thick maple top, sits on a standard trestle base. The legs are fixed to the stretchers with mortise and tenon joinery and the top is designed to be removable for easy transport.
The maple slabs had been sourced by Holtz himself, after approaching a farmer in rural Wisconsin about a downed tree in the front yard. When the landowner said he had no other intentions than burning it, Holtz called in a portable bandsaw.
He sourced about 10 slabs from the tree and had them kiln-dried. Each measured approximately 11 feet by 30 inches.
Holtz adds that he works with a lot of ash and elm in his furniture line – an effort to utilize trees afflicted with Dutch elm disease and ash borer beetles.
He says customers sometimes call in with requests for custom furniture pieces from trees they are forced to cut down,
“They are bringing the trees into their homes and keeping them in their lives,” he adds.
Holtz says he also has a penchant for saving wood that would otherwise go to waste for these reasons.
He works with a local sawyer who mills afflicted trees, and he incorporates the cuts into projects such as headboards and custom cabinets.
Visit jholtz.com to view examples of his work and to follow the building process on his blog.
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