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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.

Celebrating 40 years of handcrafted furniture, featuring our builder Levi

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.”

Levi building a table at The Joinery

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 Joinery is proud of our partnerships with two Portland-area high schools to help further the woodworking aspirations of young students. In person events and tours for these programs were on hiatus for the last years due to COVID-19 but we are excited that we have opened it back up to help support our youth.   

Student from Sabin-Schellenberg tour The Joinery woodshop

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.

The Joinery celebrating 40 year anniversary: Story feature of Angel

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. 

Finisher at The Joinery: Angel

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. 
 

Finisher at The Joinery Angel

After a two year hiatus due to COVID, The Joinery is excited to be partnering again with students enrolled in the Architecture and Design program at Sabin-Schellenberg, a professional technical high school serving the North Clackamas school district, to showcase and auction their innovative creations made from scrap lumber donated by The Joinery. Students will use industry leading 3D modeling software and digital manufacturing equipment to convert scrap wood into consumer products such as puzzles, lamps, and artwork.

Sabin-Schellenberg auction

Please visit our downtown showroom between April 22nd and May 15th to see all the amazing projects and bid on your chance to win one of them. All proceeds from the silent auction will be donated back to the program.  

One of the things we enjoy most about our work is our relationships with other Portland makers, many of which have been cultivated over years of working together. After a temporary pause due to the pandemic, in the past several months we have developed new partnerships with home good makers, whose wares we are excited to feature in our Showrooms.

The Joinery new Portland Makers

The last year has been challenging for all of us as we have navigated through the pandemic. We are deeply grateful to our customers for the opportunity to build so many beautiful pieces to enhance their homes over that time. Below are just a few of the photos we have received from our customers.

The Whitman Dining Table, Whitman Bench, and Whitman Dining Chairs in Eastern Walnut. 

The Hayden Dining Table and Hayden Chairs in Western Walnut with Maple accents

The Whitman Dining Table, and Whitman Dining Chairs in Eastern Walnut and a Bishop sideboard in Cherry

A custom Hayden Dining Table and Klamath stacking chairs in Western Walnut with Maple accents

If you have photos of your Joinery furniture that you would like to share with our team please email them here

Our company and products have always been a reflection of our great team of employees. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic our team, many of whom are pictured here, has been incredibly thoughtful about preventing the spread of the virus. The new realities have changed how we operate, but not the care and consideration we hold for each other, our customers, and the products we take so much pride in creating. During this challenging time we have been inspired by the incredible support of our customers.

The Joinery team

Below are just a few of their heartwarming messages here.

"Your beautiful artworks grace every room of our home, and gives us quiet joy every day." 

"Thank you times a thousand for all your help in making the piece happen; it'll be something my partner and I cherish for many decades yet to come." 

"We have gotten so much pleasure from the two pieces of furniture you made for us...most recently the breakfast room table that Kyle made.  We admire it continuously throughout the day, and consider ourselves particularly fortunate to have gotten delivery before the shutdown." 

"During this time of quarantine many are taking the time to reflect on friendships and kindnesses from past years.  I just received your newsletter via e mail. I thought about you all AND the fact that I had just spend yesterday lovingly cleaning/lightly oiling my GORGEOUS dining table and 10 chairs made by you nearly 25 years ago.  We LOVE it and have from the start.  Having it made “specifically for us” allowed it to be exactly what we wanted and has not failed us over the years!  It's as beautiful as the day you delivered it."

If you would like to share your Joinery moments with us please email your note here

During the ongoing protests of police brutality against African Americans and the killing of George Floyd, The Joinery’s downtown Portland showroom was vandalized and looted. While this was unfortunate, The Joinery supports the millions of peaceful protesters across the country and around the world who are speaking out against the ongoing injustices faced by African Americans and other people of color. We are encouraged by the strength of the response and look forward to helping build a society where there is truly justice for all. To read a letter from our CEO click here

Inside our Showroom

Like many people around the world, I have struggled deeply since watching the murder of George Floyd. On this issue, there can be no “statement from The Joinery.” This is too personal for that.

For me, there are several layers to this latest outrage. The outermost layer is the most obvious: A handcuffed, defenseless black man was brutally murdered in broad daylight on a public street, once again at the hands of a white police officer.

That in and of itself was horrific. But as we all know, this was not an isolated incident. We have seen video footage of the deaths of countless of black people over the last several years at the hands of white police officers. And as we all know, these killings did not start with the advent of cell phone video technology. They have been taking place for 400 years.  Advances in technology have simply brought it more to light, undeniably, in all its brutality.

And even as the videos continue to mount, we know that what we see on TV is only a tiny fraction of what is really happening. This behavior – and its deadly results for black Americans – is far more widespread.

Getting to the core – and what shakes me the most – is the underlying beliefs that white Americans have about blacks that lead us to the point where a police officer could murder a defenseless black man in broad daylight with complete impunity. His fellow officers did nothing as he knelt on George Floyd’s throat for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The passersby taking cell phone video and imploring the officer to stop did not give him pause. How could someone act with such heartlessness, with such disregard for human life, with such confidence that he would face no repercussions?

Yes, we know that police brutality against African Americans is widespread and deadly. But this problem did not start with attitudes of white police officers. These beliefs have permeated deeply into white subconsciousness and are pervasive throughout our country in all aspects of society. We watch these murders with horror. But they are the tip of the iceberg. They are the most visible, undeniable and obviously reprehensible actions. But like an iceberg, much more lies below the surface. The overwhelming mountain of injustices that black Americans face on a daily basis are still largely unseen and unacknowledged by white people. While most of these injustices are far less serious than murder, their cumulative impact is no less deadly; their psychological toll no less severe.

On a very personal level, I see how my African American wife bears the scars that are inflicted on her on a daily basis, and how witnessing each new killing on TV weighs her down. How she reacts when she sees a pickup truck with a confederate flag. How she won’t keep the second-floor windows open on summer nights when it’s 80 degrees in the house.

And I worry about my beautiful brown-skinned children, particularly my son. How can I help him overcome the institutional bias that is stacked against him? What steps must I take to protect him from white people? How can I help keep him safe when he encounters police? When he goes for a jog in the neighborhood? When he goes to a park to look at some birds?

At the very core of this issue is a simple truth: to solve this problem, together, we white people must own it. We must learn about and acknowledge the reality lived by people of color. We must acknowledge that their experiences are real. We must use our privileged voices to fight for change. We white people must acknowledge that this isn’t “a few bad apples” on the police force. And that, indeed, it’s not really about the police force at all. It is about so much more.

– Jon Blumenauer, owner of The Joinery

Introducing the Virtual House Call

Let’s face it: during the pandemic, lots of folks are spending more time at home, less time in stores, and perhaps even doing a bit of online shopping. To help customers we are excited to launch our Virtual House Call service. Our Sales and Design teams can answer any questions and work with you on all aspects of design and product selection process to help you find the perfect piece for your home, including designing it from scratch.
 
Click here to schedule your free Virtual House Call via Zoom.

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