Woodworkers help each other out

John Steiner has been Richard Oetting’s woodworking mentor the past few years.

Oetting has learned a lot, but most importantly, Steiner said, was to “quadruple check everything before you make your cuts. It’s so easy to make mistakes.”

Steiner is going into semi-retirement from Steiner Services and plans to refer any big jobs in the future to Oetting.

Steiner moved to Bainbridge Island in 1975 when he was 25. Over the years he’s been involved in free diving, spear fishing, power volleyball, downhill ski racing and tennis. “I’ve been really involved in sports,” he said, adding when he started sailboat racing he “bought the fastest thing I could find.”

He was exposed to woodworking at a young age by his dad and brother. He took classes in high school and college. He calls Steiner Services a custom shop. “We do everything” from furniture to boatwork, he said. “I like the variety. It’s a challenge to do new stuff all the time.”

The work he is most proud of is a display cabinet in the book room at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. He also has benches there. “The work for the museum is the highlight of my life,” he said.

However, being a commercial diver was the “funnest time in my life. You drop down eighty feet, it’s pitch black, and it’s time to go to work.”

Unlike many retirees, Steiner said he doesn’t plan to travel much. He called this area “The Walt Disney World of the Northwest.” He plans a simple life with gardening, tennis and working 12 or so hours a week with “no deadlines and people who are easy to work for.”

Meanwhile, Oetting is coming to the island after having a business in Port Orchard. He has built furniture all his life, but as a hobby. “I’ve turned a hobby into a business,” he said.

Oetting plans to focus on quality, custom work. He thinks BI is a great spot for that. “They have a little more money so they are a little more discerning on what they want – something special for themselves,” he said.

Oetting likes working with white ash, black walnut and cherry wood, and credits Steiner with teaching him how to do oil finishes.

He plans to make custom cabinets, furniture, libraries, kitchens, entertainment centers, china cabinets, vanities and more. “Anything to fit their needs,” he said, “as long as it’s not Home Depot style.”

Richard Oetting in his shop.
Richard Oetting made this dinner table
Unique round table made by John Steiner.
Fireplace work made by Richard Oetting. Courtesy photos
This bench also is located at BIMA.
Artsy table made by Richard Oetting.
A beautiful dresser made by Steiner.
Richard Oetting made this China cabinet