In this era of specialization, David Kotz is a rarity – he does it all — from cutting down the tree to the finished furniture.
And now he’s opened up a showroom to display his natural wood products.
“We respect, honor and appreciate natural beauty of wood in all we mill, design and build,” is his motto.
Born in Bainbridge Island and raised on the family farm near Grand Forest, Kotz said he’s always loved the beautiful trees.
“I climbed them as a kid,” he said. “It was sad to see them cut down and shipped elsewhere.”
But it is inevitable that some trees will come down. And when they do, Kotz wants to keep them here. So his business focuses on using local timber for local products. He uses the whole tree, even the trunk and branches. His wood-grain furniture is for residential and commercial use.
Kotz got an early start, getting his first chainsaw at age 14. He would take the leftovers from logging operations and cut and sell cords of firewood. He would go out after storms and cut up wood from trees that had fallen.
“When they’re split open and freshly cut the colors just pop,” he said. “Madronas and maple are so beautiful inside.”
He took a class in wood shop at the old Commodore school. “It came pretty easy for me,” he said.
Kotz helped a BI schoolteacher build houses during summers. “We could really go to town because he wasn’t teaching then,” Kotz said.
He bought his first circular “old school” sawmill in 1987. Then he bought a band sawmill in 1991.
About that same time he started up the Coyote Organic Farm where he grew vegetables and sold them to local restaurants and at the early Farmer’s Market.
Splitting time between those businesses he then decided to focus on building furniture in 1995 with the Coyote Woodshop.
“I like to work. It’s always been my thing,” he said.
He still owns two sawmills on Day Road and has four part-timers working for him. Like many small businessmen he fixes his own stuff.
“I’m not getting rich off this,” he said, adding his wife luckily has a successful career.
Kotz has no formal training in making furniture, so he “lets the beauty of the wood shine through.”
When the Bloedel Reserve had to take out some diseased elms a few years ago he got the logs and built them a beautiful table and counters in the gift shop. At IslandWood, he used local wood to build rustic railings on big stairways and balconies. Kotz loves grabbing trees that would be crushed to the ground anyway and using those poles for railings.
“Log and stick work, I love that style,” he said, adding he’s built about 40 other pieces at IslandWood, including the garden fence.
And at Heyday Farms, he milled for the dairy barn long posts and beams, along with the maple floor planks. He’s also done community projects with Bainbridge Island rowing and Wing Point Golf Club.
Ironically, Kotz said, “I don’t want to cut trees. But trees come down all the time so I keep an eye out. There’s always some gem in clearing projects — like gnarly old maple or madrona.”
He knows he’s not the only tree hugger on BI.
“People do love their trees” so if one blows over or has some other problem it’s a “nice thing to preserve it and make something for the home with it.”
He said while custom work is his bread and butter, sometimes he sees a piece of wood and just has to do something with it. He has so many of those pieces now he decided to open the showroom.
“Keep innovating, that’s part of the fun for me, what evolves when using the whole tree,” he said.
At 57, Kotz said he doesn’t do much tree felling anymore, and he’s got yards full of logs he’s trying to get to. But he’d like to find someone to pass the business along to.
“It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s a great resource for the community to have the ability to do all this work here.”
Cascara Gallery Fine Furnishings.
Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Appointment only, 7500 Day Road NE.
David Kotz Woodworks, 206-437-0058
Handcrafted furnishings: Natural wood dining tables, coffee tables, benches, kitchen islands, more.
Wood for your custom project. Dried, flattened and sanded.