My career in woodworking began later, and less traditionally, than most professionals in my trade.
I had just started college and needed to save up some money, when a job ad appeared in the newspaper for a wood shop employee. The next thing I knew, woodworking was the center of my life.
After that initial job, I tried my hand in a number of different companies from custom furniture, to a high-end kitchen and bath company—learning from different mentors in the trade. Finally, a few years ago, I was able to start my own furniture company. My name is Corbin Clay, and I make furniture at The Azure Furniture Co..
My company, Azure, is based in Denver, CO, which features the type of pine wood called"beetle kill." Its name is derived from the beetles that land on the trees and burrow beneath the bark, ultimately killing the tree.
And the epidemic is widespread. That beetle kill pine is destructive to our forests as the trees pose a huge fire hazard, and with 4 million acres, that’s a big issue for the local community.
But something else happens during the infestation process: the trees turn a beautiful shade of blue azure and offer a unique take on wooden furniture.That’s where I found my inspiration to start a furniture company that builds each piece of furniture with beetle kill pine wood.
Upon starting The Azure Furniture Co., I encountered a crash course in running your own business.
All businesses have two major costs, the material and the labor. For me, material cost was minimal because the beetle kill pine is significantly priced lower than regular pine.
The major challenge was minimizing and identifying our biggest cost: labor time consumption. After looking at our processes and business model, I realized that a large portion of a project was the joinery step in building the furniture.
Using a biscuit joiner didn't give us the strength and quality we were looking for,, and buying a CNC machine for upwards of $100,000 dollars just wasn’t an option. Not to mention the length of time these machines required.
Enter the Festool Domino. What I really like about the Domino is its strength compared to a biscuit joiner. It’s revolutionary in the speed and ease with which I can create sturdy frame joints or perfectly cut mortises. What used to take me hours, now literally takes me minutes, and results in clean and accurate floating tenon joints of the highest quality.
The Domino improves my bottom line by allowing me to do more work in less time—it’s the obvious next step for high-end woodworkers. Since incorporating the Domino as the center piece to our business model, all 32 pieces of furniture that we build are built using the Domino.
I want my customers to know they’re not just buying furniture; they’re participating in the experience and helping the environment. With The Azure Furniture Co., people know my work will give them the highest quality at an affordable price. I attribute this to both the low-cost beetle kill pine, and the Festool Domino.
Clay founded Azure Furniture, Inc. in 2009, with a mission to introduce beetle kill pine into the modern furniture market, making use of millions of acres of pine beetle killed trees - and attract environmentally conscious furniture buyers and those attracted to 'Made in America' wood furnishings. Clay has become an industry personality, with appearances sponsored this year at the AWFS Fair by SafetySpeed; and at Cabinets & Closets Expo by Festool.
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