Builder Profile - Tenzin

Joinery Craftsmen

Tell us about your background.

I was born and raised in Northern India. I am Tibetan. In 1998 I moved to the United States with my wife who is originally from Portland.

When did you start working with wood and what was the first piece that you ever built?

When I was around 18 years old I joined a vocational program in carpentry where I learned to build houses and also basic furniture. While I was doing that I got inspired to continue training in traditional Tibetan carpentry, which includes wood carving. I got an opportunity to apprentice with a great master from Tibet. My first piece of furniture was a traditional folding table.

How long have you been working with The Joinery?

I started at The Joinery in 2000. In 2008 I went back to India for about 4 years and now I am currently residing in Portland.

Tell us about your experience being a part of the Dining Chair building team at The Joinery. Is there a particular chair that is your favorite and why?

I like building chairs because they have complex angles, joints, and beautiful curves which all require great attention of detail to complete. My favorite is the Josh Chair because it has interesting joint components, a beautiful simplicity, and a minimalist style.

What are the most rewarding and the most challenging projects that you have worked on so far?

Towards the end of my apprenticeship in India, I got a special chance to work with my master on a monastery altar that included cupboards. All the work was completely done with hand tools, and a lot of carving was required too. The design was quite complex; most of the ornamental pieces could be dismantled. The whole thing was really like a giant puzzle! It took about 6 months for us to build it.

Turning wood is another one of your specialties at The Joinery. Tell us about the Turning process. What is your favorite piece that you have turned so far?

Turning is a new skill I have learned since I have started working at The Joinery. Though I don’t really do any sophisticated Turning, I especially enjoy the center posts of dining tables which have intricate patterns.

What is your favorite wood species to work with and why?

My favorite wood is Western Walnut because it has a really rich color when finished with oil. It has beautiful patterns with a variation of coloring. Also, the density of this wood is perfect to work with. I especially like that it is also native to this area.


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