Hello. My name is Craig Bentzley and I’ve been addicted to woodworking for over forty years. For me, it’s been a good problem to have – for my family, maybe not so much. As a youngster, I was always building something and to my father’s chagrin, I was always using, abusing, and losing his tools. I built tree forts, model airplanes, birdhouses, and plenty of other stuff. I was one of the few students that took my shop classes seriously, whether wood or metal shop, and I eagerly enrolled in drafting classes for all three years in senior high school. My goal was to become a tool and die maker, doing one-off work in a highly specialized machine shop.
In my senior year, I picked up a part-time job in a machine shop and it was a great experience but due to the de-escalation of the Vietnam War, they lost some contracts and let me go. A few weeks later a company that made components for the seating industry hired me as a Junior Designer. That was a major turning point in my life and I stayed at that job for eight years. I worked with some great contemporary furniture designers and soon started designing my own furniture. A huge influence was local furniture icon George Nakashima. I made most of the furniture for my first apartment and made several commissioned pieces with the barest minimum of tools in an attic and later, a basement shop.
The next milestone was in 1974 when a new designer joined the company I was working for. He had a penchant for antique furniture. Despite our difference of opinion, we became fast friends and soon I started to develop an appreciation for older furniture. Eventually I became enamored with hand tool technology and 18th century American furniture design and they remain a passion to this day.
I went on to work in three furniture restoration shops, an architectural restoration shop, and a high-end kitchen cabinet shop. I also started writing about woodworking in 1990, beginning with Rodale’s American Woodworker, and later I contributed to Popular Woodworking, and WOOD magazines. Most recently, I have been regular contributor to Woodcraft magazine. Currently, I spend most of my time building furniture on a commission basis, restoring antiques, drawing plans for historic furniture, serving as a consultant for several tool manufacturers, and trying to keep my honey do list to a manageable size.
I also teach classes and give presentations at guilds and woodworking shows. These experiences are always rewarding and I’ve found that I enjoy passing on what I’ve learned almost as much as woodworking itself. In conclusion, I’ve discovered woodworkers to be a special breed and as a generality, you couldn’t meet a nicer, more generous group of people.