Growing up with a father who is a general contractor, Brandon Roettjer was exposed to woodworking early in life. It wasn’t until about four years ago that he decided to try it out himself.
Growing up with a father who is a general contractor, Brandon Roettjer was exposed to woodworking early in life. It wasn’t until about four years ago that he decided to try it out himself. Roettjer’s father owns several acres of land in Washington state. As the property became overgrown, it was necessary to thin some of the trees including Cedar, Fir, Madrone and Western Maple. During a visit with his father, Roettjer asked if he could have some of the wood slabs that had been drying in the family’s barn. “I remember telling him, “Just give me a few pieces and I’ll show you I can do something with it,’” Roettjer recalls. Inspired by slab wood furniture he had seen locally, Roettjer decided to try his hand at crafting a table and incorporate some of his background in metalworking.
While working at a Ford dealership in his early twenties, Roettjer always had a project in the garage that he could focus on. Rebuilding old vehicles such as Ford Broncos, Model As and Roadsters allowed Roettjer’s metalworking skills to grow. His base knowledge in automotive repair came through trade school, which also provided him training with basic welding. “I believe if you have a good attention to detail, it makes working with different mediums much easier. Many processes are very similar and transferable.” Roettjer applied that philosophy to learning about woodworking. His furniture pieces are a modern blend of woodworking and metalwork.
Attention to detail is apparent in the smooth finishing of the wood, or the inlay of a piece of formed metal into the existing grain pattern of a wood like figured maple. The texture and lines of the metal are purposefully shaped, although Roettjer says he doesn’t generally draw out his designs ahead of time. “I spend a lot of time staring at materials and simply figure out what I can do with it. Many times, with wood, I just let the piece dictate what it wants to do. Metal is different; it can be shaped more or less into anything…within reason.”
Roettjer’s interest in making doesn’t stop with furniture. He has also made or modified several of the tools that he uses in his shop. “I never had a lot of money,” he says. “My brain has always leaned towards building rather than buying.” Wooden mallets of ipe, maple and lignum vitae are tastefully crafted, though their main purpose in Roettjer’s workshop is functionality. His equally functional, darkly stained fir anvil stands are trimmed in blackened metal bands and fitted with custom formed hammer racks.
What started out as a trial and error project for Roettjer has turned into a nearly full time job crafting furniture. In his spare time, he is expanding his metal working techniques by exploring blacksmithing through the teaching of a good friend. “I am constantly challenging myself to try new things, learn new techniques, use different mediums and apply new skills. The most important thing I tell people is to be patient, very patient and persistent.”
Brandon Roettjer lives in Seattle, Washington. His work can be viewed on his Instagram page www.instagram.com/blend_fabrication