The art of wood selection
One of the most important aspects of Joinery furniture is that it is customized to meet unique needs. Customers select several key attributes of their furniture, which we then build to order. One of our most experienced craftspeople, Tenzin, is able look at stacks of lumber and visualize a beautiful finished product.
Tenzin has built many extraordinary – and oftentimes extremely customized – furniture pieces during his time at The Joinery, which is fitting for someone with an incredibly unique background. A Tibetan who was born and raised in the far northern Indian province of Ladakh, Tenzin began formal training as a carpenter there when he was 18, learning to build houses and furniture. He trained with a Tibetan master carpenter on traditional Tibetan furniture, which includes carving.
During this training, Tenzin traveled to remote areas in Northern India to build schools. Because of extremely cold weather in the region, the areas were only accessible for three months of the year. “A group of us who were bachelors were asked to go because the others were married and had children, so they could not leave for long periods of time,” Tenzin recounts.
“We would build a school in one village, then quickly move to another village in the same region to build a school there before the weather turned.” Tenzin said. “We had to complete the buildings and return home before the roads became impassable.”
In 2000, Tenzin moved to the US and began working at The Joinery before taking a break to return to India in 2008. He returned to Portland in 2011 and has been with us ever since. Tenzin is also unique in that he has built products in all four product categories at The Joinery, always with great skill and precision. He is currently on our Case Team, but has also been a key contributor on our Seating, Table and Bed Teams over the years.
“I really enjoy the creative process involved,” he says. “In this era, it is rare to find woodworking businesses that make high end hardwood furniture and where builders can select the lumber and complete the project from beginning to end.” It is this creative process where Tenzin's skill and artistry really shows thru. Before any production begins, he is able to envision the finished piece and is able to select the boards that best showcase the design of the piece. With more customized designs, Tenzin draws upon his rich background and experience to build furniture to meet very distinctive customer needs. To see an example of his artistry on a recent build of a Custom Maud credenza click here.
Through the years Tenzin’s favorite aspect of working at The Joinery are the people he works with. With a cumulative 19 years at The Joinery, he has had the pleasure of working with countless talented craftspeople over nearly half of our 40-year history. When reflecting on his time here, Tenzin believes people would be most surprised if they knew more about the make-up of our team. “Our builders come from diverse walks of life and training,” he notes. “Some of us are trained carpenters, while others have advanced degrees in fine arts, engineering, design, and architecture. A finished piece may include the input of several team members, drawing upon those different backgrounds.”
Tenzin is the consummate teammate that all of us at The Joinery appreciate and admire. He offers great insight into our furniture products and shop processes while exuding a calm, peaceful presence and kind heart that we all enjoy being around – as well as an infectious laugh that makes everyone smile.
Thank you Tenzin for your great contributions to our team and customers!