The Zen of sanding: Vancouver furniture maker Kate Duncan talks shop

Stomping by means of the inventive rabbit warren that is Vancouver’s 1000 Parker Avenue Studios, furniture maker Kate Duncan appears as relaxed as her brown work boots. Winding her way earlier the studios of hundreds of neighborhood artists and craftsmen who are primarily based in this iconic creating she stops in the wood shop she shares with 10 other chippies — all of them men — in which skill saws whine and sawdust clogs the nostrils. “Sawdust boogers,” Duncan remarks.

The reality that Duncan is a female in the male-dominated trade of carpentry and home furniture creating is nearly as unique as the customized-created parts she creates for clients like Vancouver’s Sutton Location Lodge, who just lately commissioned her to produce a line of serving trays for place provider and sandwich and pizza boards for their cafe. When Duncan taught wood shop in Burnaby substantial colleges five many years back, she was a single of only four females carrying out so in B.C.

“I think it is so hyper-masculine,” claims Duncan. “The place and the sound and all the individuals who are in it, so discovering a place to nonetheless sustain some femininity is challenging.” In the 3 and 50 % a long time that Duncan has worked out of her East Vancouver studio she has not achieved yet another woman furnishings maker and nevertheless she can’t imagine doing anything at all else.

“People like to Zen out with the yoga but I’m not really wired that way,” she laughs. “So I come below and Zen out with my sanding paper.”

Functioning with hardwoods from again East, like black walnut, white oak and maple, Duncan produces pieces that variety in dimensions from her common reducing boards to credenzas, beds to bathroom vanities and side tables to desks. She stocks Parliament Interiors in Gastown Main Street’s Considerably and Minor Atkinson’s on Granville and Granville Island’s Make, amid other folks. Her operate is meticulous, with precision her driving pressure.

“A woodworker from my previous once stated “good adequate is not good” and that resonated with me,” says Duncan. It was in the course of a excursion to Japan some several years back that her simple and exact style of furnishings generating was cemented. “It’s a truly higher calibre of good quality and joinery over there,” she says. “And truly precise.”

This regular of absolutely nothing considerably less than perfection performs properly for her clients, who see the value in her custom made-manufactured pieces.

“They get exactly what they want,” claims Duncan. “They get to choose: do you want it 72 inches or seventy six inches? You tell me because it can make no distinction to me, to the price or how I make it. It’s a big difference to you the stop person.”

Duncan claims you cannot examine custom made-created household furniture to the likes of Ikea or other chain stores since they’re two completely various beasts: from the top quality of wood, to the ending and joinery, to whether or not someone is seeking to purchase something they’ll have to throw away in five years or will last them a lifetime. “It’s Allen keys as opposed to dovetails,” she laughs.

There is a developing amount of people says Duncan who are commencing to appreciate the price in sitting down with a furniture maker, having a brief consult and strolling absent with a commissioned piece that fits their needs for the same value as getting off the floor at a higher-finish furnishings retailer.

“I recognize the distinction between going for walks into a retailer and observing one thing and falling in enjoy and acquiring it and the instantaneous gratification and higher that comes with that,” states Duncan. “I feel everybody enjoys that. But I also feel there is this other genuinely amazing knowledge of receiving something custom made manufactured: The high following might final a tiny longer and the things I make is likely to outlast me.”

Duncan is seriously included in the nearby interior style scene lately generating the demonstrate Handle, which ran for two weeks out of The Chinatown Experiment (in Chinatown) and showcased nearby lighting designers, textile and ceramic artists.

Operating with nearby inside designers Duncan also created parts for Vanglo Residence: the Mount Pleasant display residence created to encourage sustainable living. Embraced by this metropolis, Duncan’s perform is also on show at VanDusen Botanical Yard as component of their present ‘Touch Wood’ exhibition (on until September 30th).

Her operate can be viewed at

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