Offerman Woodshop is a small collective of woodworkers and makers based out of Nick Offerman’s kick-ass wood shop in East Los Angeles. We focus on hand-crafted, traditional joinery & sustainable slab rescue–working with fallen trees from throughout northern California & our urban LA environment. We like to carve spoons, chainsaw stumps, plank canoes, keep our chisels sharp with stones, build pinball machines & fine furniture. From refined modern designs to enormous Middle-Earth masterpieces, we build it all while smiling a lot.
Nick was taught to swing a hammer and countless other tools by his Dad, his grandfathers and his Uncles Dan and Don of Roberts Brothers Farms. In theatre school at the University of Illinois, he used these skills to begin working in the scene shop, under the tutelage of Kenny Egan. This paid off handsomely when Nick began his professional theatre career in Chicago, as he offset his meager acting income with building scenery and props for large equity theaters. By the time he moved to Los Angeles, he’d opened his own modest shop in a warehouse and begun collecting tools. Once in LA, Nick couldn’t find as much scenery work, so he turned to building decks and cabins with his longtime friend Martin McClendon, another Illinois alumnus. Together, they fell under the spell of old-world furniture joinery, and, with Marty’s help, Nick opened his shop soon after, where he continues to build furniture, small boats, and anything else that tickles his fancy.
RH LeeLee began working with wood at age 7, when she enrolled in the Kids Carpentry program in her hometown of Berkeley, CA. Years later, while studying art and philosophy at Brown University (BA ’00), she got involved in set building for theater. She worked as a scenic carpenter and instructor of scenic arts in small theaters around the Bay Area before eventually moving into building interactive science exhibits & cabinetry for the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco. Lee moved to Los Angeles in 2008, where she now manages the Offerman Woodshop, and designs and builds both custom furniture for private clients and exhibits for the Outdoor Gallery at the Exploratorium. Lee teaches woodworking in the School of Art at Cal State Long Beach and is a member of the LA Box Collective.
You can see more of Lee’s work at leebuild.com
Originally from Palo Alto, CA, Josh studied furniture and cabinetmaking at Cerritos College. Utilizing traditional joinery and construction methods, his work emphasizes honest craftsmanship. He is especially influenced by Shaker, Arts and Crafts, mid-century modern, and Asian design. When not at the shop, Josh enjoys cycling, snowboarding, and drinking IPA’s.
Matt stumbled backwards into woodworking at the tender age of 23. He previously spent 7 years apprenticing as a grade school janitor, but upon moving to Los Angeles he spurned his dream to take up antique restoration at Shabby Chic. Matt quickly became the most adept carpenter of the 3 actors employed there. Although he enjoyed 3 blissful years touring California buying, hauling, and restoring antiques, he grew tired of painting furniture pink. Matt worked occasionally for OWS, but didn’t find enough confinement for his spirit there, so he tried his hand at a variety of office jobs. Matt still had to get his furniture fix at night. And thank Jehovah he did. It was during these nighttime sessions that Matt discovered his true calling: not finishing furniture projects. It has been a magical 7 years now of not finishing pieces that has lead Matt to be OWS’ resident Incompetence Marshall*. Come by the shop and see some of the pieces Matt hasn’t finished.
Matty has to be called Matty because the name “Matt” was taken. Matty is from the little town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania. He spent much of his childhood riding his go-kart, making forts in the woods, and performing in local musical theater. After graduating from Muhlenberg College with a BA in Theater he spent some time in New York City working for The Public Theater. Not having any real skills he spent half his day helping build scenery and the other half creating performances in the elevator. Some elevator show favorites were Mission To Space, Wild West Saloon, and the vaudeville classic ‘This Is The Elevator’ complete with song and tap dance. During his time at The Public he picked up a few tricks of the trade, packed his bag and headed to Hollywood. Having nothing but a dream in his eye and a song in his heart he found the Offerman Woodshop. He is truly grateful to be working and learning the trade from such a loving team. When not working at the shop Matty enjoys playing the ukulele.
Michele’s first experience with wood was producing a pinhole camera in a high school photography class. It opened her eyes to all that was possible designing something that was beautiful and actually worked. She continued studying photography in college, but found that sculpture and design was in her heart and thus the transition into the three dimensional world began. After college she held many positions in the art and craft worlds, honing her fabrication and design skills. They ranged from gallery/museum preparator and technician to artist assistant to machinist. Once she settled at the The Exploratorium in 2004, , she constructed a range of interactive exhibits, furniture and public art pieces. She left in 2010 to study at the College of the Redwoods Fine Furniture Program in northern California which inevitably led her on a search to find a shop where she could build furniture on commission. Luckily the Offerman Woodshop is where she landed and has been ever since.You can see more of Michele’s work at michelediener.com
Although Thomas most recently hung his hat in Cambridge, MA, his love for wood originated in the Southeast where he attended timber harvesting expos in Alabama and Georgia from a tender age. A mid-childhood move back to the family farm in Kentucky only fueled that fire, as he began spending his afternoons and weekends helping his father with selection logging in the wooded land on the farm and with many different restoration and construction projects. Somewhere in said childhood, whether while building furniture for his stuffed animals or helping mill logs on his neighbor’s Wood-Mizer, Thomas became interested in woodworking. Although his trajectory from Kentucky to OWS has been less than logical and certainly far from predictable, he arrived there nonetheless, solidly underqualified to work in such a shop, but eager to build on his rather rustic abilities. Outside of the shop, Thomas enjoys whiskey, whisky, opera, and bowties.
Originally from nearby Cerritos, California, Krys has been working with wood since high school shop class. Krys’ first ever woodworking project was a hand-carved unicorn for grandma–so it’s no surprise that while apprenticing at OWS, Krys has developed into a talented carver & sculptor. Krys has a gift for both revealing wood’s organic shapes and channeling the inner tree spirits of any old stump or 2×4.
In addition to apprenticing at OWS, Krys also unofficially chairs our committee on staff morale and smiling.
Growing up on a farm, Ric spent a lot of time working with his hands. Even after he moved to town and worked as a history teacher, he spent his summers doing labor. He worked on local farms, did odd jobs, and spent 18 summers laying asphalt. He worked with wood a lot, but never purposefully created something out of wood until 1972 – the year Nick needed help getting up to the toilet. Ever the attentive parent, Ric made him a handy little step stool out of pine. Since then, he has outfitted the family living room with an entertainment center and end tables out of oak, and for their dining room Ric built a china closet out of oak to match the existing antique one. For the last few years, he has put in a lot of time working on the scroll saw and laminating hardwoods. As a result, he has furnished most of his friends and family with cutting boards, Christmas ornaments, Cribbage boards, and bird houses. If you ever get the chance to visit him in the shop, you’ll leave with a smile on your face.