Out of the woodwork | SteamboatToday.com

Out of the woodwork

Artist fine-tunes craft with inspiration from natural world

Woodworker David Winters still has all 10 of his fingers, and he plans to keep it that way.

But his wife, a hand therapist, reminds him daily of the finger horror stories she encounters at her job. One of them involved a man replacing his lost thumb with his big toe.

“She tells me stuff like that to scare me,” Winters said. “But I’m very safety conscious. Safety comes first, and production comes second.”

Winters creates high-end cutting boards, kitchenware, mirrors, sculptures, gearshift knobs and custom designed home furnishings. He likes working with wood because of its sensory qualities.

“Wood is such a tactile medium,” he said. “People always want to touch it.”

The downside is that some woods, such as cottonwood, don’t have the pleasant aroma of, say, juniper. Winters said his wife won’t let him in the house after he’s worked with some of the smellier woods until he changes his clothes.

Winters likes to take gambles with ideas for new designs, which can sometimes be costly in time and materials.

“I pushed the envelope and tried to do pieces with a bunch of holes, which each turned at a different axis,” Winters said. “I spent 10 hours on it, and then it fell off the lathe. I used a little profanity and moved on to the next thing.”

Winters tests the limits in other aspects of his life, as well.

“I ran the whole Grand Canyon on my surfboard,” he said. “And I carve (with an Alpine snowboard) in the winter with my Monday Morning Carve Club.”

Winters grew up surfing in Hermosa Beach, Calif., and finds inspiration in all aspects of nature. As a child, his mother took him camping in Baja and the Sierras and fishing on Catalina Island. He wants to pass not only his love for the forest and nature to his two sons, but also his craft.

“I like the idea of passing on a legacy,” Winters said.

Winters’ woodworking education began in high school, where he took woodshop classes all four years. Experience, reading and interacting with an online woodworking discussion group — to which he never gives up his secrets — have helped Winters advance his work.

Winters has invented all of his own jigs and harvests wood with a chain saw, which requires a drying process.

“When I get the wood, it is super wet and takes one year per inch of thickness to dry,” Winters said. “Most woods are kiln dried, but my attic is my kiln.”

He has a production-line system for manufacturing his most popular item — cutting boards. Winters typically makes 10 to 15 cutting boards a week, but they are on back order now because of a busy wedding season.

“A cutting board or bowl set is also a guaranteed wedding gift from us,” he said.

His newest project is making gearshift knobs out of wood and polyester resin.

“I’ve always been a car guy and into hot-rod casting,” Winters said. “I got a wild hair and recently turned a couple at a hot rod show in Denver.”

Winters continues to find inspiration in developing new projects with different mediums.

“It’s finding new materials and using them in new innovative ways — that gives me the charge,” he said.

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