Wood goodwill

SNOHOMISH — In 2007, Derrick Burke was a biotech worker who produced investigative drugs for clinical trials, a great job he likens to “ultra high-tech beer manufacturing.”

Like a lot of people in that industry and many others, Burke was laid off toward the end of that year. Unlike a lot of people, he’d seen the layoffs coming and started thinking about what to do next.

“I wanted to turn my love of a traditional craft into a modern business,” he said.

The traditional craft that Burke loves is woodworking, another business where people are being laid off in droves as the housing industry and the general economy continue to struggle.

Burke was undaunted.

He went back to school at the University of Washington’s Bothell campus to earn a master’s degree in technology management. With his new degree, he’s opened Puget Sound Woodworking at 105 Ave. A in downtown Snohomish, a community he’s lived in for many years.

The small business, which had been a storage room for another business until Burke took it over, looks a lot like the traditional wood worker’s shop.

There’s a beautiful, old wooden floor, brick-lined walls and a stack a rough-sawn hardwoods in one corner. There are some heavy wooden work benches, table saws and a lot of tools.

There are also some of Burke’s beautiful pieces of furniture in the shop. Burke plans to make some items for sale, just as traditional shops do, but he wants his business to focus more on selling tools, hardwoods and skills to other interested hobbyists.

“I’m trying to create an entirely new center here for people who want to make things with their hands,” Burke said.

He believes that many people are tired of poor quality products and are interested in doing more things for themselves — making things they can be proud of and use for many years.

He said studies show that the average age of people who take up woodworking as a hobby is 47. “More people are doing it as they retire and trying to make a little money as a hobby,” he added.

Rather than trying to do just that as a business, Burke is hoping to develop a group of teachers who are knowledgeable about things like furniture making, carving or producing guitars or a bow to shoot arrows.

He’d like to develop a large number of classes from beginning woodworking on up to teach people the correct and safe ways to do things and to sell them the equipment that he likes and believes in.

Woodworking is a skill that takes planning and experience, Burke said. “You have to get out there and make a lot of mistakes,” he said. “But classes can shave years off the learning curve.”

Burke isn’t sure how big the market will be in Snohomish County, but he knows from experience that the area is under-served.

“I had a trip I made every month where I went to Bellevue to get my blades sharpened and then I would go to Seattle to get equipment and hardwoods and inspiration for some designs,” Burke said. “All woodworkers in Snohomish County do that.”

He hopes to make those trips superfluous, or at least to become a popular stop on that trip for local woodworkers. People are invited to check things out during an open house April 2 and 3. For times, call 425-749-7771.

Burke will be available, as will other teachers who will offer classes in their specialties. Burke said he’s hoping to talk with experienced artists who have a specialty they’d be interested in teaching.

Puget Sound Woodworking

Owner: Derrick Burke

105 Ave. A, Snohomish

425-749-7771, ext. 1


Open house: April 2 and 3

More in Herald Business Journal

Health-care consumers need to take the lead, so get smart

David Russian, CEO of Western Washington Medical Group, writes our third essay about fixing health care.

More business, more competition for Everett kidney dialysis center

Nonprofit Puget Sound Kidney Centers sees large for-profit competitors enter state market.

Molina Medical holds fall carnival for families in Everett

Molina Medical is hosting a free event for families in the Everett… Continue reading

Leadership Snohomish County celebrates 20 years of service

Leadership Snohomish County is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The organization was launched… Continue reading

Snohomish, Monroe manufacturers honored for innovation, excellence

Two Snohomish County companies have been honored with Manufacturing Excellence awards at… Continue reading

Remodeled home tours planned this weekend

This weekend, Edmonds-based Chermak Construction will participate in the 2017 Remodeled Homes… Continue reading

Barron Heating to celebrate anniversary at Marysville showroom

Barron Heating and Air Conditioning is celebrating its 45th anniversary from 10… Continue reading

Robots on Wall Street: Slow-footed regulators lose ground

Watchdogs have to figure out how to check computers running lightening-fast algorithms.

US budget deficit hits $666B, an $80B spike for the year

The deficit issue has largely fallen in prominence in Washington in recent years.

Most Read