Celebrating 40 years of handcrafted furniture
We are so thankful to be celebrating our 40th anniversary this year. Thanks to our dedicated team and wonderful community of customers and partners, The Joinery continues to create handcrafted furniture that is here for good. As part of our celebration, we are featuring members of our team and unique aspects of our process throughout the year.
Honoring a 20-year employee during our 40 year celebration
A lot has changed over The Joinery’s 40-year history, but for the last two decades one thing has remained the same: Bruce. Our longest tenured employee, Bruce joined us in 2002 as a Finisher and has been with us ever since.
Bruce contributes to the Finish team in many ways. He has mastered the nuance of finishing Joinery furniture to its silky-smooth final state. He plays an important role in training new members of the team. He builds small parts and crates. And if customers ever find that a piece of their furniture needs to be spruced up a bit? They just bring it back to us and Bruce takes it from there. After all, he didn’t get his nickname “Sprucey” by accident.
Although he’s seen it all during his time with The Joinery, Bruce appreciates the continuous challenges. “The days are never the same,” he says. “After twenty years in the Finish department, I find that there is a new challenge every day that keeps you engaged.”
Bruce continues, “It’s great to come to work at a place where people care about the furniture they build. The Finish department takes great pride in making sure the furniture we send out the door is the highest quality.”
Besides being our longest-tenured employee, Bruce is just an all-around great guy. He is a fan of seafood as well as good wine, and enjoys fishing, clamming and crabbing.
Thanks Bruce for your contributions for half of our 40 years!
Training new Craftspeople with Levi
Critical to our success over the years is training new Craftspeople as they join our team. Even the most skilled woodworkers have a learning curve as they work to understand our specific quality standards and processes for creating beautiful hardwood furniture. Levi, who has been with The Joinery since 2017, wears many hats as a Shop Lead, Lead Table Builder, and chief trainer. He recently spearheaded the effort to overhaul the onboarding process for new builders on our Table Team that now serves as a model for our other product teams.
In celebration of our 40th anniversary we connected with Levi about not only his craft, but also his passion for helping others. “Training and mentorship is such an important part of what we do at The Joinery, and woodworkers holistically,” he says. “I learned the ins and outs of furniture building with The Joinery and had a lead builder showing me the way. To this day, I still do certain operations or build certain pieces with his voice in my head. I feel a great sense of duty to not only pass on the building of timeless furniture, but all the foundational knowledge that has helped The Joinery for forty years.”
An important aspect of the training process is to understand how new employees learn best, and use that knowledge to guide them appropriately. Recently Levi has led the effort to develop training documents for individual products to be used in conjunction with hands-on training. While training new Craftspeople, Levi balances support and oversight with the freedom for new team members to move ahead on their own. He brings a great mix of technical and people skills to his work, and has been a critical part of our team for many years.
“What I like most about my job is that it rarely feels like a job,” Levi says. “It is fulfilling, and the results of my work are tangible. I can sit back at the end of the day and physically see what I accomplished. I also love watching builders grow throughout their careers. It’s really fun to see people go from ‘deer in the headlights’ apprentices, to crafting beautiful, high level pieces and even passing on their knowledge that they learned along the way to new folks.”
Levi approaches each piece with very high expectations for quality and aesthetic beauty. “I’m never completely happy with how a piece turns out. I will be very nitpicky and hard on myself about some small detail and then hear back that the customer loved everything about it. I guess it helps to not be satisfied because it keeps you believing you can always do better and gives you motivation and focus for the next piece.”
Levi’s commitment and dedication over the years has paved the way for not just his own success in the company, but that of other as well.
Thanks, Levi, for your role in helping develop skilled Craftspeople who continue the tradition of creating handcrafted furniture that’s here for good.
The Finishing process with Angel
It takes a trained eye and a passion for details to be a part of our Finish Team at The Joinery, as these last steps are critical for enhancing the natural beauty and durability of each piece. These skills are exemplified by Angel. His love of working with wood, dedication to quality, and a great personality have made him a true gem in our company for nearly a decade.
After our Craftspeople build, assemble and sign each piece, it is turned over to our Finish department. Under the bright lights, each piece is inspected, and then the sanding process begins. It is meticulous work, and where we often find Angel. When he first started at The Joinery, he was surprised at how the variety of wood species we offer respond to our process. Each species has different characteristics that require a slightly different approach to ensure we bring out the best qualities of the wood.
Once each piece is methodically sanded, it moves onto the most revealing step, applying our natural oil finish. It is in this phase that the true color and wood grain really come to life. “People would be surprised how different tones come out after applying oil, even though the wood is all from the same tree,” Angel says. Even after nine years with The Joinery and finishing thousands of pieces, he still gets excited to see how the piece is transformed once oil is applied.
Next, the furniture is hand-sanded and a final beeswax finish is applied to give each piece its silky-smooth hand feel. This process not only lets the natural beauty of the wood come through, but it also allows for easy repair from dents and scratches that inevitably happen to furniture that is built to last for decades.
When speaking to Angel about his years working at The Joinery, he says he has experienced a lot of changes – from new furniture designs, new team members, and now a new woodshop location – but a constant for him is his love for working with wood.
Thank you, Angel, for celebrating our 40th anniversary with us, and to many more years to come.
As we move thru the 2022 year we will continue to share additional stories of our team members and their processes that make the Joinery who we are today.