Katie Turner grew up in Southeast Minnesota and spent a lot of time with grandparents. Her grandfather was a farmer and took up woodworking as a hobby in the winter to keep himself busy. He coaxed his granddaughter into giving woodworking a try and she fell in love with the process.
Fast-forward fifteen years later and Katie has turned the skills she learned into a fledgling business. She has shared her love for the craft with her husband Kyle and since their move to Prophetstown last year they finally have the space and the time to create custom wood furniture and useful wood products.
The couple moved to town for Kyle to take a job with Shore Acre Farms (Brooks) in Prophetstown. A far less nomadic lifestyle than he had after working for a custom harvest crew that traveled from Texas into Canada during harvest season. Katie also works full-time in the area as an operations manager.
Their main shop is a converted garage at their home in which they do all of the steps of their projects except for the final finish, which is done in their basement.
They create custom furniture pieces including kitchen tables and utility carts along with dozens of smaller items. Their current “large” project, is a breakfast nook table, which will take approximately 80 hours to complete.
All of their wares are created from rough cuts of lumber that they plane, cut, sand, and finish. They pride themselves on designing and creating pieces that, for the most part, do not use screws or nails but are assembled with various types of joint cuts. Katie says this makes a for a stronger and longer lasting product.
The finish is also a key part of the creative process as some items can receive up to six treatments before it is complete. “Wood moves, it’s a living breathing organism up until the time it’s cut and can still move after that. That is why I go to great lengths to close the wood’s pores so it doesn’t move nearly as much,” said Katie. “That process makes for a much more solid finished piece.”
The couple sees the business as their escape from the daily grind of their jobs and the ability it gives them to decompress. Weekends are when they get most of their work done spending anywhere from 10-20 hours working on projects.
The Turners know the how to side of the business but are still a little green when it comes to the business side. Fortunately they have been able to rely on a few area businesses that have followed their same path. Katie has reached out to local entrepreneurs Chelsea VanDyke of Envy Boutique and Jenna Scifres of Scifres Handmade Jewelry seeking advice on how their businesses evolved. “Having that ability to have conversations and pick the brains of those local entrepreneurs is awesome.”
The Turners are big believers in locally made products, “I would rather support somebody local and spend a little bit more to know what I’m getting and that was made locally,” said Katie.
The couple has fun with their burgeoning business exampled by naming various patterns they use on cutting boards after the people they design them for such as the “Wankerl”, who are friends of the couple.
Their more popular sellers include trivets, coasters, serving trays, cutting boards, cheese slicing boards, and cigar holders, but they are always willing to custom design an item.
They use various woods including oak, cherry, walnut, and maple to give their products a distinctive look. Katie insists that the items be used for their intended purpose and not just for display telling one customer, “Please use it, because if you don’t it will offend me more. The person that gave it to you wants you to use it.”
The couple will be on hand at this Saturday’s Harvest Days celebration in Prophetstown.