How did I get into Woodworking?
I grew up in Germany where we have the option to continue with high school or attend a trade school. I chose the latter at the age of 16. After 3 years, I received my journeyman's license and continued for another year building furniture. I took a break from woodworking for 4 years to explore other career options, but got back into it when I moved to Hawaii.
How did I get into Woodworking in Hawaii?
In 2004 I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, where I was installing high end cabinets up and down the Kona coast. 4 years passed and I moved to Honolulu where I started working at re-use Hawaii. While helping them with the setup of their current warehouse I was also asked to build some furniture pieces. Here I discovered my passion for building furniture using reclaimed materials. What started out of a garage at my then home on Wilhelmina Rise turned into an official business in 2009 with moving my small woodworking operation into a Kalihi warehouse. My first business name was Wuttke Werks which evolved in 2011 into Honolulu Furniture Company after joining forces with my previous business partner. To that time we opened our current workshop in Kakaako on Cummins Street.
Why I am passionate about working with local material:
Sustainability played the major role of why I got into woodworking in hawaii in the first place. I discovered old growth douglas fir from home deconstructions which are unmatched in quality and beauty. You plane an old board and the smell of sap fills the room and it looks new again as well. After joining forces with my previous business partner who came from the koa side of furniture building we decided on using monkeypod wood as a good compromise since Koa is considered an endangered species and I didn't want to support this. Since monkeypod on the other hand is considered an invasive tree but has all the beauty of koa wood and beyond, is termite resistant and not to mention a lower price tag, this seemed to be the wood to work with.
It was difficult to find monkeypod lumber in the beginning and even more difficult to sell it. Most people associated monkeypod with mass produced bowls and other kitchen ware from the Philippines. Our first purchase of monkeypod turned out to be even a different wood, (so much about knowledge on our side and the others). After making it our mission to educate the people through our website and other craftsman started utilizing it, monkeypod slowly found its way into consumer awareness.
I am happy to see that so many new woodworkers are utilizing this invasive but beautiful tree these days. I still get excited about this wood and take great pride in hand picking all materials and turning it into heirloom furniture by knowing that I am doing my part of sustainability here on this island.