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David Stine Woodworking

American Made Since 1997

David Stine

Dow, Illinois
I handcraft one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture with wood I sustainably harvest and saw myself from land that's been in my family for generations.
Design

Tell us about your business.

I started my company when I was in law school—I needed a creative outlet! After practicing law for a year, I realized that woodworking was my true passion and calling, so I quit law and have been crafting furniture fulltime since 1998. My process begins in the woods on my family’s 500 acres. I steward the land, culling only dead and dying trees to make room for new growth. The woods are both the source of my material and my design inspiration. Being so close to the wood, from stewarding it to harvesting and milling it, informs my work in the most natural, harmonious way. As I mill the logs, every cut is a revelation as I see the inner life and extraordinary beauty of the wood. That's what drives the design. Often, I see immediately what the wood will become, what I will build. I have always lived and worked sustainably and I take my craft very seriously. This gives my work integrity, and it gives my life a sense of richness and meaning. This isn't a job; it’s a way of life.

What makes your business stand out?

Sustainability and integrity are the cornerstones of my craft. I’ve been woodworking since I was a child on my family’s farm. I understood at a young age the importance of craftsmanship, attention to detail, integrity in what you do and say, and responsibly stewarding the land. These are the values I was raised on, and these are the values I bring to my work and life. I steward my family’s land. I sustainably harvest and mill the trees. Every piece of furniture I craft is the articulation of the natural beauty of that tree, which lives on as a beautiful and useful object that can grace a home for a lifetime and beyond. An MBA-type would say that I have perfect vertical integration: from source to sales, I do it all myself, with complete creative control. But I look at it differently. This is the way I want to run my business. This is the way I want to live my life. It’s real, it’s sustainable, and it’s as American as it gets. It’s not just craftsmanship; it’s a way of life.

What's the best business advice you've received?

After law school, I was working for a firm and was pretty miserable. Every day I would come home and go right to the wood shop where I would lose myself in my craft. After about a year of this my wife said, “Honey, you cannot live a life that you hate. You know what you love, now it’s time to love what you do.” That really hit home. I loved woodworking but I hated what I did (practicing law). So I quit law and started woodworking fulltime, and have never looked back. Now, not everyone has the luxury of loving what they do or of quitting their day job to pursue a life of a craft they love, but if you can find a passion in your work, an element of love and pride in what you do, your life will be richer and fuller for it.

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