West Brattleboro man honored for woodworking

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BRATTLEBORO -- Although Steve Robinson graduated from the Vermont Woodworking School a year ago, his work was recently honored on the school's Wall of Fame.

"I had a set goal to learn how to build furniture," he said. "All my previous experience helped me tremendously. (This included) how wood works and how wood goes together, the temperature and humidity. It was a really cool experience. I just wish I did this 20 years ago."

Robinson was given a photograph of the plaque that will be displayed at the Vermont Woodworking School's Wall of Fame, where his plaque will join three other students' who won the award before him. On the plaque itself, there is a picture of a dresser Robinson made during his time at the Cambridge school.

He had joined the school as an Immersion Program student, which meant that he already had some past experience with wood working and furniture design.

Robinson told the Reformer that he has always been into woodworking and obtained a degree in forestry from Paul Smith College. He has also graded different types of lumber and said that he had a keen eye for characterized wood.

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"I've always been into wood industries and I always liked building things," said Robinson. "I took a sabbatical and went up to (the Vermont Woodworking School) for a year to learn from some of the most talented craftspeople in the state of Vermont."

Staff members of the school were impressed with his ability to make furniture during his days as a student.

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"In his time with us here, he impressed his instructors with his strong work ethic and talent in furniture making," stated a letter from Blake Ewoldsen, who runs operations at the Vermont Woodworking School. "All the furniture he built with us paid great attention to the presentation of wood grain and the utility of the piece itself. He excelled at the understanding of complex joinery in relation to his work and rarely had to relearn techniques he had applied. Steve was a great asset to the school here and we are proud to have had him as a student and look forward to watching his furniture making career grow in the future."

The Wall of Fame was created three years ago to recognize outstanding students in the Immersion Program.

"An awarded student has demonstrated superior work and ability, has set an example as a model student to others and exemplified safe and appropriate practices in the program," stated the letter from Ewoldsen. "Steve Robinson was awarded for his past work in recognition that he was all of the above but was not honored at the time. The staff requested that we make an exception and retroactively award him for his work."

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Robinson lives in Waterbury now, but his parents, Barbara Blake and Larry Robinson still live in West Brattleboro.

A coffee table he built is on display right now at the Vermont Artisan Designs on Main Street in Brattleboro.

Currently, Robinson's main focus is on timber frames, posting beams and working on building homes for people. He owns a shop and hopes to eventually work only as a furniture maker.

"It takes a little bit of time to work in (that line) and get a reputation," said Robinson.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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