John Thoe, Woodworker


Dining Tables


Entrance and Coffee Tables







Custom carving, woodworking and fine furniture.

  JOHN THOE FURNITURE  - detailInformation:


Good chair design combines comfort and aesthetics together with strong
engineering. In my chair designs, I attempt to mimic the forms in nature. For example, the bracing and the angles I use to attach the bar stool legs to the sculptured seat resembles the splayed legs and tendons seen in the cat family or a praying mantis, beautifully positioned for stability.



The chair frame and legs gain their strength from the feather-jointed corner blocks in the frame. Each corner block consists of up to 36” of linear glue surface (up to 6 rows of tongue and groove joinery). The strength provided by the corner blocks eliminates the need for rungs between the legs.



Chair LegsI use American cherry, maple, walnut and Honduras mahogany wood that highlight the design of the table and chairs. I am more concerned with woods that highlight the design rather than the design showcasing the wood.

The attention I pay to detail can be seen in the way I cut the wood. For example, by placing the legs top-to-top on a board, I'm able to ensure that the grain of the wood in the legs, when attached to the chair, will reflect one another. You can see the beauty of this effect in the accompanying photos showing the chair legs and the top of the chair. The paired parts become mirror images of each other.


Since 2007 there has been a steady increase of 10% each year of people requesting table tops made from the same log. I have started stocking logs cut for table tops and have presently a walnut, Tiger maple, high figured and low figured cherry logs. These, as well as others can be ordered from Horizon Woods in Pennsylvania . Depending on figure the price increases range from 5 to 10% table increase. Digital images are available from Horizon's web page before purchasing. The 2 images shown here are from my high figured cherry log.
Cherry wood log


I began woodworking in 1970, as an exchange student in the mountains of Telemark, Norway. There I apprenticed with one of the first graduates of Norway's school of acanthus furniture woodcarving. Later, I returned to Norway and to my carving teacher during semester breaks while studying art history at the Christrian Albrecht's University in Kiel, Germany.

I received a BFA degree from the University of Iowa. During the 11 years I lived in Iowa, both as a student and a furniture maker, I worked on and off as woodcarver for different furniture shops at the Amana colonies.

In 1986, I received a Fulbright alternate status to return to Norway to research Norwegian carving. But an opportunity suddenly arose that would take me, my wife and two cats to Seattle for a carving job that comes once in a lifetime. On a visit to Seattle, I had happened upon a shop that had just won a bid to restore a section of the Episcopal Diocese in Seattle, which suffered fire damage. Advertisements for furniture carvers had been placed in newspapers in England and France; the shop was happy to win the bid and hire me to help with the restoration.

After the Diocese job I spent years working with interior decorators and architects. I have worked for the Washington Athletic Club and Sunset Club of Seattle, the Benson Hotel in Portland as well as many prominent homes in the west coast, Hawaii and Alaska.

In 1992, I became a member of Northwest Fine Woodworking, a membership owned furniture gallery in Pioneer Square, Seattle. At that time I added a limited production line of 2 chair designs with an oval dining table to my work. These designs I offer are both classical and timeless in shape. I have enlarged them; designed settees from their shapes and now have recently designed a bar stool with a sculptured seat. I have worked in almost every state, Canada and Mexico as well as Europe and Asia.

In 1998, I graduated from a shared 6,000 ft. shop in downtown Seattle to a soundproof shop and barn on my own property, which also houses my home on almost an acre, still within the city limits of Seattle.


Fulbright Fellowship to Norway, Alternate status 1986
National Endowment for the Arts Grant 1985
Iowa Endowment for the Arts Grant 1982
Ford Foundation Scholarship for printmaking , University of Iowa

Recent Publications:
Crafthaus on line chair exhibit, "Sitting Pretty", May 2010
Wood Art Today 2 - Book, 2010
Lark 500 Cabinets - Book, 2010
NW Pacific Magazine, January 17, 2010 (custom chairs for Virginia Stamey)
Fine Wood Working Design 8 - Book, 2009
NW Magazine, Seattle Times - December 7, 2008
Woodworkers Journal e Zine #216 - 2008 Interview: “How Woodworking edged out knitting”, 4/8/2008
Fine Woodworking Furniture 102 Contemporary Designs - Book, 2008
500 Chairs - Lark Books, 2008
NW Magazine, Seattle Times - November 6, 2007
NW Magazine, Seattle Times - May 6, 2007

Related Links

©2010 John Thoe Custom Woodworking and Design, custom furniture, dining tables, chairs, wood carving located in Seattle, Washington.