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Inside Woodshop

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We trekked to San Francisco's foggy Outer Sunset neighborhood to check out Woodshop, a collective of four artist and designers who came together through a shared interest in craft, design, and surfing. The studio consists of Luke Bartels, who creates custom furniture from local hardwoods; wooden surfboard maker Danny Hess; Josh Duthie, who reinvents old chairs with new ideas; and the artist and sign painter Jeff Canham. After I poked around the front showroom (open by appointment only), Bartels took me around their 2,100-square foot woodshop and studio, one of the coolest workspaces I've seen.

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  Here's the view of Woodshop from Noriega Street. Gigantic plate glass windows let the light in, and offer passersby a peek at the small retail space up front.
    Here's the view of Woodshop from Noriega Street. Gigantic plate glass windows let the light in, and offer passersby a peek at the small retail space up front.
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  Upon entry, on the left you encounter a display of 'antlers' (made of branches), a wooden surfboard by Danny Hess, and a scattering of creatively refurbished chairs by Duthie, who calls his one-man company Chairtastic.
    Upon entry, on the left you encounter a display of 'antlers' (made of branches), a wooden surfboard by Danny Hess, and a scattering of creatively refurbished chairs by Duthie, who calls his one-man company Chairtastic.
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  On the right is a wall unit (custom-made by Bartels) displaying the collective's eclectic offerings: wooden surfboards by Hess; chairs by Duthie; painted, graphic art by Canham; and, in the foreground, a salvaged wooden dining table by Bartels.
    On the right is a wall unit (custom-made by Bartels) displaying the collective's eclectic offerings: wooden surfboards by Hess; chairs by Duthie; painted, graphic art by Canham; and, in the foreground, a salvaged wooden dining table by Bartels.
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  Here's Bartels at work on a customizable bookshelf. He takes private commissions and has also created shelving and shop displays for local businesses like Mollusk Surf Shop and William Stout Architectural Books.
    Here's Bartels at work on a customizable bookshelf. He takes private commissions and has also created shelving and shop displays for local businesses like Mollusk Surf Shop and William Stout Architectural Books.
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  Beyond the retail space is a soaring workspace and woodshop that all four designers share. The walls are covered with Duthie's recent finds, awaiting their big makeover.
    Beyond the retail space is a soaring workspace and woodshop that all four designers share. The walls are covered with Duthie's recent finds, awaiting their big makeover.
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  Hess peeks out from his lofted mezzanine studio, where he creates "heirloom-type wooden surfboards, designed to be used, and passed on."
    Hess peeks out from his lofted mezzanine studio, where he creates "heirloom-type wooden surfboards, designed to be used, and passed on."
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  Hess builds surfboards "similar to how guitars are made: from the inside out." He uses materials like salvaged redwood and poplar, and intends for them to last ten times longer than those made of foam and fiberglass. He calls his a "more sustainable approach to surfboard-building."
    Hess builds surfboards "similar to how guitars are made: from the inside out." He uses materials like salvaged redwood and poplar, and intends for them to last ten times longer than those made of foam and fiberglass. He calls his a "more sustainable approach to surfboard-building."
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  Bartels, left, and Hess, right, demonstrate another use for tail block scraps: moustaches.
    Bartels, left, and Hess, right, demonstrate another use for tail block scraps: moustaches.
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  Canham with a recent side project, a collaboration with his Woodshop mates: thumb pianos with personality.
    Canham with a recent side project, a collaboration with his Woodshop mates: thumb pianos with personality.
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  In Canham's studio, wooden drawers reveal some of his recent work, including commissions from Paper and Good magazines.
    In Canham's studio, wooden drawers reveal some of his recent work, including commissions from Paper and Good magazines.
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  The thumb pianos later inspired these tongue-in-cheek art birdhouses, peppered with avian puns. They're for sale in the showroom and the Curiosity Shoppe in the Mission District for $650.
    The thumb pianos later inspired these tongue-in-cheek art birdhouses, peppered with avian puns. They're for sale in the showroom and the Curiosity Shoppe in the Mission District for $650.
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  Here's what Duthie calls his "ideal find: a mid-century chair on the side of the road that's broken." He also finds chairs in thrift stores, flea markets, and estate sales.
    Here's what Duthie calls his "ideal find: a mid-century chair on the side of the road that's broken." He also finds chairs in thrift stores, flea markets, and estate sales.
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  Here's an 'after' photo: Duthie found this chair on the street, covered in paint. He sanded it down, replaced the back slats with walnut, added a walnut seat, and finished it with linseed oil. The inlay squares filled in former nail holes. "I call what I do refinishing," says Duthie, "but it's really redesigning and refurbishing while trying to keep the integrity of the chair intact."
    Here's an 'after' photo: Duthie found this chair on the street, covered in paint. He sanded it down, replaced the back slats with walnut, added a walnut seat, and finished it with linseed oil. The inlay squares filled in former nail holes. "I call what I do refinishing," says Duthie, "but it's really redesigning and refurbishing while trying to keep the integrity of the chair intact."
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  Peanut, one of three pups in the Woodshop canine squad, looks quite stylish in his striped wooden tie.
    Peanut, one of three pups in the Woodshop canine squad, looks quite stylish in his striped wooden tie.

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