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Craig Nimtz: Furniture Maker
Walk into Craig Nimtz’s West Sedona workshop and showroom and you’re immediately greeted by the sharp yet comforting scent of cut wood. Eight years ago Craig opened The Crooked Chair, designing and crafting furniture using alligator juniper, manzanita, and saguaro cactus. He’s been in his West Sedona location for four years, working closely with interior designers and catering both to new home buyers and homeowners looking to redecorate here in Sedona (though he has shipped furniture to other states).
Craig creates a wide range of furniture, from bathroom vanities and mirrors to fireplace mantels, skylights, and beds. Around his workshop sits wood ranging from small branches destined to become candelabras to trunks and limbs twice the size of a person and set aside for executive desks. He has a five-acre lumberyard in Camp Verde where he stores more material – all the wood is collected locally (with permits, of course) and is completely dead before being removed from the forest. While most furniture makers at least begin with common wood such as oak and pine, Craig, who previously built homes in California, says he began crafting with ponderosa pine before moving into the exotics he uses now.
Soft-spoken Craig is a man of few words – a hand-crafted chair made by a friend in Scottsdale inspired the name of his business and still sits near his showroom. He works seven days a week and says he gets attached to the pieces he creates. Craig says only he knows when a piece is truly finished. “It’s not done until it clicks,” he says. “The inspiration is always there, especially when I’m moving wood around. If I trip over it enough, I’ll make something out of it.”
Once created, each of Craig’s pieces is sandblasted and oiled with an average of ten coats to give it a polished look and smooth touch. Craig provides one free oil service and recommends clients oil the piece once a year. Other than that, the upkeep is minimal. “They will last hundreds of years,” he says. “The wood is already 1,000 to 1,500 years old.”
Craig plans to add more copper inlay to his new pieces, many of which can be purchased directly from his showroom. Craig’s client’s homes range from Southwestern to contemporary – he says it’s all about finding the right piece. “Each one has to be special,” he insists. “None of the wood here goes into the trash. Nothing goes to waste.”
Craig Nimtz and The Crooked Chair
Tim McClellan: Furniture Designer, Engineer, and Builder
“I’m an overnight success story…after 15 years,” laughs Tim McClellan, co-owner of Western Heritage Furniture in Jerome. While working in the car business in Everett, Wash., in 1991, Tim was dating a woman who fell in love with a log bed she saw in a catalog. Always the charmer, Tim told her he could build the same bed and went about gathering slash and burn logs from the surrounding forest. When his girlfriend’s friend saw the bed, she asked Tim to make one for her too. She paid him $250.
Flash-forward to 2003 when Tim created a desk for a design conference in Cody, Wyo. He used cherry wood, buckboard, buffalo head nickels, copper, leather, and maple to create the Presidential Desk – it sold, sight unseen, for $25,000.