Turning Idaho’s old-growth trees into modern furniture
By Ana Lete Photos Kimberlee Miller
Nestled in Eagle, ID, WoodLab began to take Idaho’s natural old-growth trees and turn them into modern art and furniture pieces.
According to WoodLab team member David Gosse, “In late 2017, we visited a local wood mill that housed some of the largest live-edge wood slabs we had ever seen. We were struck by the splendor, variety, and sizes of these old-growth trees, but also realized that most of them can’t be used for commercial manufacturing.” In order to save these slabs from being turned into board lumber or firewood, WoodLab started buying them to turn their imperfections into modern art and furniture.
At its core, WoodLab is a collection of handcrafted solid-wood epoxy-resin furniture pieces, but also offers a variety of stand-alone wood slabs as well. These slabs come from trees of all varieties, including black walnut, elm, silver maple, catalpa, ash, sycamore, and white oak. After ordering a custom piece or wood slab, WoodLab applies an eco-friendly, non-toxic epoxy resin to their products to ensure that their products last a lifetime.
“Most of our team members worked in the tech industry for a long time,” Gosse said. “While we enjoyed developing software, coding ecommerce sites, and digital marketing, we yearned for something more tactile, collective, satisfying, and purposeful.”
Today, WoodLab’s small, but dedicated five-person team take on different roles to turn old-growth tree slabs into custom solid-wood furniture and art pieces for their clients. David Gosse is WoodLab’s main artistic visionary and maker, Tim Jorgensen woodworks and builds their pieces, Jason Nutzman runs their EcoPoxy department, while Justin Nutzman facilitates ecommerce development and Jennifer Gosse designs products, markets and talks to clients.
While WoodLab has completed several projects and commissions, Gosse said that a few projects have stood out in recent history.
“During a pop-up at West Elm’s downtown location last winter, we met a couple who had a 100-year-old door-turned table they had found in New Mexico 20 years prior. Over the years, their family-dining table had developed deeper cracks and started to disintegrate,” she said. “They saw us on Instagram and came to West Elm to discuss their vision. Since Mexico is renowned for turquoise stone, they hoped we could fill the cracks and layer crushed turquoise on the surface.”
WoodLab did just that. After filling in the cracks and adding a layer of turquoise, the couple’s family-heirloom transformed into a modern Southwest-inspired piece that will bring them joy for years to come.
According to Gosse, WoodLab is currently working on purchasing Idaho’s third-oldest walnut tree, “With a girth of nearly four feet, the tree has seen its best years in someone’s yard and needs to be felled before it becomes a liability. Our shop hopes to take its slabs and let the tree’s natural beauty and history shine on in people’s lives.”
This dedication to reclaimed products and sustainability is present in everything WoodLab does. “Everything we do and produce is based on a sustainable, eco-friendly and community ethos,” Gosse said. “We believe in supporting small business, buying local, using reclaimed products, and doing meaningful work with our hands, hearts, and minds.”
In June of 2019, WoodLab will open their new shop and showroom in Eagle’s Industrial Center at 44 and Edgewood, and also plans on hosting youth groups, students, and wood-makers of all ages for woodworking basics, pour-your-own board days, and team building events. “The City of Eagle has been very welcoming to us, and we can’t wait to give back and facilitate hands-on training at our shop.”
The WoodLab team would like to thank some of the community members and businesses that have helped them grow, including: the Forysthe family, Dan and Brad at Avimor, River Valley Woodworks, West Elm, Laura Johnson, John Ralph, Forge Signworks, Fuhrman Construction and very importantly, the Jorgensen family, whose patriarchal legacy of master craftsmanship, high-quality tools and decades-old local walnut slabs provided the foundation for what WoodLab is today.
To learn more about WoodLab and see examples of their custom-wood furniture, visit their website: woodlab.co or visit their Instagram account at @woodlab.