Local Woodworker finds the right angle
BY: CLAIRE RAMSAY
If you’ve toured any high-end remodels or new construction recently, you’ve probably noticed a name cropping up: Burton Made.
Whether it’s a wine-tasting table for an Atchison-Heller project, a custom coffee table for the Castle and Key Visitor Center, a wide slash of ash for kitchen seating for Pickett Homes, a tray ceiling rendered in wood to top off a bar, or a custom solid walnut island, home and garden industry insiders are getting to know Doug Burton.
Burton was born and raised in Lexington, KY and received his degree in Geology from the University of Kentucky. He’s been making furniture for the past 9 years.
His woodworking business, Burton Made, started out as a hobby he worked on in his basement that eventually got out of hand.
He began his business in 2015 with a focus on quality and detail, and has now expanded to a workshop located in an industrial area off Winchester Road.
He noticed that there is a lot of furniture out there that looks great in passing or in photos, but lacks usability. “I didn’t see the point in a nice table that was damaged by setting a glass on it. So I was motivated to make a product that looked good, was not made of veneers, and would hold up to the flurry of everyday life.”
Burton has had an interest in building things since a young age. When he was eight, he and his sister found some scrap wood that they used to make a toy box. It wasn’t until he was 22 that he made his “first real piece of furniture.” He created his own bed frame, a project that took him two months worth of nights and weekends to complete. It’s an African Mahogany mission style frame that he uses to this day.
When asked what his preferred piece of furniture to create is, he simply said “I enjoy making interesting bespoke pieces.”
He started out by just designing and making tables out of wood that look like they have their own story to tell. His work has evolved over time since he first started this “hobby,” but he enjoys meeting one-on-one with a client and bringing their vision to life.
He personally loves working with walnut. He likes to pick pieces that tell a story and will provoke people to ask questions.
He especially appreciates projects where his clients provide their own wood because that’s a story he can help write for them. “I particularly enjoyed a table made out of hand hewn ash beams from a client’s family homestead in Clark County dating back to the early 1700s.”
“I’ve always had a creative bug. Most gifts I’ve given to family members over the years have been homemade.”
A former client of his asked him to build a wine tasting table out of a large oak tree that came down on their family farm. This turned into one of his favorite projects he’s ever worked on. Each child of the family took a circular slice from the stump of the tree and he was able to join them together to create the wine table. It became a commanding centerpiece, not only for their wine cellar, but for conversation and good wine.
This summer, Doug will be getting married and a dream project for him would be to create something that will commemorate their day — something he could make a part of their home together.
One look at his work screams, “don’t try this at home,” but a pro tip he has for any DIYers is to be very selective when it comes to the quality of wood being used. Make sure it has been dried properly because when the process is rushed, wood doesn’t season or acclimate well. If rushed, it may appear fine, but it can crack and warp months after you are done. When going through a supplier, make sure that your supplier lets their milled lumber season for two to three months before kiln drying. This will allow the stresses in the wood time to work their way out.
He also lives by the old saying, “measure twice, cut once.” Precision is key. He reminds us, “10 and ⅞ of an inch is not the same as 10 and 15/16 of an inch, and there is no faking a right angle.”
This article also appears on page 8 of the March 2019 print edition of Hamburg Journal.
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