Chase Ankeny – Albuquerque Furniture Maker

10353712_390301457794951_5973716122976838859_nToday I want to share one of the best all-around pieces of woodworking wisdom that anyone has passed on to me in 10 years of writing about the craft. I say woodworking wisdom, because it came from a woodworker, but in truth you could apply it in many arenas. I suppose that is part of what makes it wise. Anyway, it goes like this: “Good craft demands honesty. If you lie to yourself that a joint is good when it is not, things will fall apart.” Simple but true, and it gets to the heart of just about every mistake I’ve ever made in the shop. It’s all too easy, when you want the finished thing in your hands, to let expediency guide your decisions – to do something halfway and hope for the best. And then you get into trouble. Or I do, at any rate. For that simply stated truth I am grateful not to an aging sensei of the craft, but to a remarkable young furniture maker named Chase Ankeny. Chase and I are neighbors, of a sort. I first saw his work on the website for his woodworking alma mater, the College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg, California. I was then amazed to discover that his home and shop are about 10 minutes’ drive from mine in northwest Albuquerque. Chase grew up in the Albuquerque area. After earning degrees in philosopchase3hy and history from the University of New Mexico, he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail before settling on furniture making as a career path. He finished at Redwoods in 2012 and just recently left a job in a production shop here in Albuquerque to devote himself full time to his own furniture-making business. He seems poised for a good start. View his work (at www.chaseankeny.com ) and you’ll see that he follows his own advice. Like many Redwoods graduates, Chase is not much interested in ornament or decoration beyond elegantly defined shape, thoughtful details and the beauty of the wood itself. He enjoys the physical nature of the work and the satisfaction of creating something tangible. He likes the creative challenge of “composing with the wood,” i.e. carefully choosing species and orienting grain to best serve the design. Putting e material to its highest and most attractive use.The power tools in his shop are a necessity, he says, but adds “it’s the hand tools that make a piece come alive.” He works with an array of woodenwall4 planes that he made while at Redwoods. “There is a moment when you take a board that is square and flat, and put chamfers on it and shape the flatness out of it, that it seems to become real,” he says. “That is what I love the best, the small details that turn the design from something abstract to something embodied.”

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