Growing up in West Michigan (near Kalamazoo), I developed an appreciation for trees and wood while wandering and working in the woods with my family. I enjoyed learning to distinguish between the oaks, maples, sassafras, and other trees in the plot of woods where my parents later built a log home. My family heated our house with wood, so I spent more time than I would have liked splitting wood and moving those split logs from the woods to the trailer, the trailer to the driveway, the driveway to the basement, and the basement to the wood stove. This quality time with wood helped me develop an eye for grain variations and the practical usefulness of this resource.
The name “Leaning Locust”
For several years, we’ve been getting our firewood from a ten-acre plot of woods a couple hundred yards from our house. Most of this firewood comes from dead black locust trees--some standing, some fallen, many leaning. A few years ago, I decided it was a crime not to make something other than winter heat out of the beautiful grain in this firewood. I decided to sculpt and carve some spoons and spatulas to give as Christmas gifts. Over time, the designs started getting more diverse and the items started looking more and more presentable--eventually even desirable. Black locust is an under-appreciated wood native to most of the eastern United States. It grows quickly and has a broad range of beautiful colors and grain patterns (as you’ll see if you look at the various black locust items on the site). The incredible density and rot resistance that has long made black locust the wood of choice for fence posts also makes it great for kitchen utensils.
The vast majority of wood I use is from the wood lot right here on my wife’s family’s farmland near Waynetown, Indiana. All of the locust pieces come from here, as do most of the walnut and cherry pieces. As mentioned above, I harvest almost exclusively from trees that have fallen in storms or from dead trees that have been standing (or leaning) for years. Some of the trees have been hanging around on or just above the ground for decades. Occasionally a friend or family member comes across some particularly attractive wood from another source and graciously sets it aside for me. (If you are interested in having custom pieces made from some wood you have, let me know.)
All of the pieces I sell are handcrafted. That term means different things to different people. What I mean is that every detail of every piece--every contour, angle, exposed grain pattern--is shaped by the movement of my hands with gouges, spokeshaves, bandsaws, power grinders, and belt sanders. Although some of the pieces may resemble each other, every piece is truly one of a kind.
All items are soaked in mineral oil before being buffed with beeswax from our own bees (or, when our bees get lazy, from other local beekeepers). See the product section of the website to buy a small container of mineral oil if you'd like to keep your utensil looking its best.