By Neva Knott
Matt Dubois is the newest member of the Beech Tree Woodworks team. He’s originally from New Hampshire, and made his way to Olympia via Fort Bragg, California. While in Ft. Bragg, Matt attended College of the Redwoods (CR), where he studied fine furniture making and cabinetry. The Fine Woodworking program at CR is built on the ideals and techniques of its founder, James Krenov. So when Matt and his family decided to move, he called Nic James, owner of BTWW, and fellow CR graduate. Matt, his partner, and their daughter, arrived in Olympia in January – timing was on Matt’s side. Beech Tree was busy, and Nic needed another skilled craftsman.
When asked what he really appreciates about his job there, Matt replies, “My co-workers are all talented and fun.” Secondly, he’s gaining experience. He learning quite a bit in his new job. Nic prefers everyone to be cross-trained and capable at all levels of production. Cross-training allows the shop to run fluidly. Matt’s background has served him well in this regard–he studied cabinetry before attending CR, and focused on fine furniture while in college. BTWW provides him with a hands-on opportunity to blend his skills.
Beech Tree Woodworks is an FSC-certified business, meaning they use sustainably harvested wood and handle it in a low-toxicity way. Matt has already noticed, in his short stint at the shop, what a big draw FSC certification is for clients. Client enthusiasm and personable interaction, Matt tells me, are the cool parts of the job. He appreciates the sincerity that comes with building cabinets for clients who want to know the builders, and want to tour the shop. While Olympia at large still feels new, clients are giving Matt a sense of community.
Since we’re talking about wood, I have to ask Matt if he has a favorite species. And he does–madrone, his favorite wood for building furniture, and his favorite tree.
In my getting to know the Beech Tree guys, I’ve learned that each has that one favorite piece he’s built. For Matt, it’s a display cabinet with a curved glass door, built in the style of James Krenov. Matt has a sweet story to tell about the cabinet. He began the project his first year at school. His partner also became pregnant Matt’s first year at school. As the arrival of his daughter approached he raced to finish the cabinet. Matt finished his piece, but he ended up missing graduation day. Evelyn was born during graduation ceremony. The cabinet traveled to Olympia from California with the family. I asked Matt if he might give it to Evelyn when she comes of age, sort of as a symbol of her own rite of passage. He smiled, “I hadn’t thought of that. I just might.”
As is true for most of the Beech Tree crew, Matt loves the outdoors and spends time camping, hiking, and back-packing. He hasn’t gotten out much yet, but I’m sure his shop-mates will have him on a muddy trail in the Cascades or along Hood Canal soon.