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Women in Woodworking
A Day With Kim McIntyre

by Anne Briggs Bohnett

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

Kim McIntyre is a woman full of life and adventure. Relationship, be it with her friends or family, is the most valuable currency in her life. She's spent over 1000 days out in the wild outdoors leading and teaching through Outward Bound, has had a crazy wide range of job titles, and she also happens to be a fantastic woodworker. Though very humble, she holds anything with her name attached to very high standards. She works hard, the quality and caliber of her work is amazing. Kim's name is definitely one to remember as she continues to build her woodworking business.

I got to sit down with Kim this past week for an interview, then we made cutting boards together in the shop space we now share on occasion, as I've just accepted the job of Wood Studio Manager and Kim is an Access Coordinator at the Pratt Fine Arts Center here in downtown Seattle.

Kim fell in love with woodworking watching her father restore their old house in Virginia as a child. She watched as he turned DIY home projects into an impressive woodworking skillset and put together a very nice hobby shop in their home.

Though she'd spent time at her father's workbench as a child, it was during her studies at Sterling College in Vermont that Kim started to develop her own woodworking acumen. At that time, all Sterling students were required to take a class called "Reverence For Wood," where one had to build a piece with three different wood joints and three coats of finish. Kim chose building frames for some prints she'd bought in her travels to Guatemala as hers. There wasn't open shop access for safety and theft concerns, but Kim had fallen so deeply in love with the woodworking craft that she found a way to sneak in through one of the windows to use the shop space, which was appropriately named Paradise.

At Sterling, Kim learned to fell a tree with an axe, then to use a crosscut saw, then finally to use a chainsaw and chainsaw maintenance. She built canoe paddles that got their first test during a school sponsored whitewater canoe trip. She left school having built a chest and drawers, a queen sized bed, the aforementioned frames, and having carved a whole lot of spoons.

During an internship semester in college Kim had two polar opposite experiences, one at a hand/foot powered only shop in Hanover, NH with Richard Starr, and then another in a power tool production shop producing furniture and parts for stores like Crate and Barrel. "The time with Richard Starr was great, he had a pole lathe and I made a green stool. Then I had the opposite experience at the production shop where I basically spent 8 weeks sanding. I had originally been excited about my immersion experience with power tools there, but they never graduated me from sanding. When I asked why, I wasn't sure whether to be flattered or offended, because they told me 'when you leave, we are going to hire another female sander because they are willing to pay attention to detail.'"

"As my college experience drew to a close, I knew that I really liked woodworking. I was looking at starting a career as a wilderness adventure instructor, and knew that woodworking was bound to create a steadiness, a grounding time when I was home, a time to recuperate and recover alone in my shop. Unfortunately, I didn't pursue finding that balance, I spent too much time working and too little time woodworking and, after 1000 days of expedition, I was burnt out."

Kim took the next six months off and moved home to apprentice with her father in his woodshop, which by this time, he'd expanded into a very nice space. "During the time at my dad's, I made my family a lot of gifts, I made a lot of Ana White furniture , and I built my first crib. That project planted the seed for what I would later build into my current business."

"I spent the next 6 months at the Vermont Woodworking School , doing their open studio program, which was outstanding. I made some cool pieces, learned a lot from Bob, the founder and from my peers, made some cool pieces, and skipped school a few times to learn how to snowboard."

"Then I moved to Denver and spent the next three years figuring out what I do and don't want with regard to a future in woodwork. When I first arrived, I worked for a furniture maker and hated it. He made me feel miserable enough to want to quit, but he was kind enough to fire me before I got the chance. I joined a community shop called Club Workshop and started selling tea boxes online, then a friend and I, Garret Brown, started our own shop. I learned how hard it is to set up a shop of my own, and how to not pay myself and only make enough money to buy tools… which obviously wasn't ideal."

"So when my wife and I moved to Seattle last year, my intention was to get a job in the woodworking industry for three years, save money, buy property, and eventually set up shop in my own home. I found an awesome job, and the awesomeness ended my first day on the job. So I quit right away, and spent the rest of the summer looking for new jobs in the morning and building a kayak from a kit I'd been given in the afternoons. The whole time I was building the kayak and looking for jobs, I was daydreaming about what it would be like to work in my own shop. I know I work hard, I know I do good work, and I just needed to trust myself to make that leap of faith and go for it."

"So I decided to start my own business. I wrote a business plan for a small scale, high-end crib line. I'm not a competitive person, I am not good at marketing or sales, so I needed to choose an area of the furniture market that wouldn't have a ton of competition and create a product quality enough that it would sell itself. As part of that, we bought a house, renovated it, and I began building out my home shop. My next step is to make the crib that I've had prototyped and then send a few out for safety testing. Once they've passed, I'll be able to start building them full time. To diversify my business and get me through the testing period, I've continued selling my tea and memory boxes on Etsy, but at this point they've become a safety net, and I'm ready to focus on the cribs for a bit."

Kim's work can be found on Instagram @mcintyrefurniture , on her Etsy Store , or her website .

Kim's Favorite Beginner Project

For this article, Kim wanted to share her favorite beginner project, handmade cutting boards. The wonderful thing about this project is that the design is totally arbitrary. Your wood on hand can dictate the dimensions and purpose. If it's a small board, you've got yourself a great cheese board. If it's larger, fantastic, it can be a serving platter or cutting board. It is also a project that can be done completely with hand or power tools, depending on your available and preferred methods of accomplishing woodworking tasks. When Kim uses the bandsaw, a coping saw will suffice. The drill press can easily be replaced with a brace and bit. Where Kim uses the router, a spokeshave, rasp, block plane, chisel, sandpaper, or some combination can do the trick.

Kim started with two pieces of scrap she found in her pile at home, two pieces of cherry. Her finish of choice is mineral oil rubbed on and sealed with a light coat of beeswax. These can easily be re-applied anytime to maintain the integrity of the wood and protect the cutting board from water damage.

The first step is to draw out the design. For non-square
pieces, some help for drawing curves can easily be found
in pennies, mason jars, paint cans, or, in this case,
a 5 gallon bucket.
Using a ruler to connect her lines, Kim finalized the design
for this medium sized cutting board.
A few relief cuts make it easier to cut curves on the
bandsaw (also helpful to relieve stress on the coping saw
blade as well).
She then moved to the sanding station to remove the
bandsaw lines and further define the shape. This process
can easily be done using rasps, a spokeshave,
or even hand sanding.
The corner of the sander helped her get into the more
tricky areas around the handle.
Once she was happy with the shape, Kim put a roundover
bit in the router and edged the entire piece.
She drilled out a pilot hole for her forstner bit so she could
accurately drill from both sides and thus eliminate the
possibility of blowout from behind the cut.
Then she drilled out the hang hole with the forstner bit.
Kim decided on a square design with a cutout handle
for the second board.
Using the same method previously described, she defined
the sides of the handle with her forstner bit.
And then she coped out the waste.
Back at the router, she used double sided tape to create a
guide for the router bit, and then defined the handle shape
and rounded the edges of the inside of the handle and the
outside of the cutting board with the router.
The board is ready for a quick final hand sanding and a coat
of mineral oil and beeswax.

Anne Briggs Bohnett is a 26 year old woodworker out of Seattle, Washington. She and her husband Adam own and operate a small farm aimed at teaching youngsters about animal husbandry, traditional woodwork, and it's also where their food comes from! Anne has been seriously pursuing woodwork with a focus on handtool use for three years and is passionate about the preservation of traditional methods and skills and building community.

Anne can be reached directly via email at and you can check out her website at .

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