Tag Archives: Kyle Petersen

Ben Petersen

October 11, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Ben Petersen has always been good with his hands. Growing up on the family farm in Exira, Iowa, Petersen spent a lot of time watching his father work with his hands to create beautiful pieces that also served a purpose. “Dad was always making something,” Petersen says with a smile, “but it had to be practical.”

It’s that commitment to quality that inspires the furniture that Petersen makes today. “I built my first stool when I was 12, and for my birthday, my parents gave me a small workshop of my own. I have been making furniture ever since.”

That small workshop in Iowa was the start. He now operates a large co-working space for other creatives, builders, and business owners in Omaha’s North Downtown District. Bench—founded by Petersen in 2012—offers hobbyists and professional makers a collaborative environment, equipment, and space to practice their trade.

Bench feels like a place where the past and present intersect. If you enter through the front door and walk up the narrow stairway, you will notice the exposed brick, the cracks in the concrete floor, and the smell of sawdust. After signing in on an iPad that notifies Petersen of your arrival, you will hear someone walking up an old wooden staircase. You will be greeted by the most impressive beard this side of the Missouri River. The building is also home to Petersen’s TimberSmith Goods.

“Every part of our furniture is functional. We take a great deal of pride in the furniture we create for customers and local businesses.”

-Ben Petersen

TimberSmith Goods grew out of PhilipDesignLab, a custom furniture company that Petersen had established in 2009. TimberSmith Goods consists of a small team of furniture makers and craftsmen who specialize in Danish-inspired, hand-hewn goods. Much of the wood used in their furniture is locally sourced and milled at the family sawmill in Exira, Iowa.

Petersen, Kyle Petersen (custom furniture lead), Adam Findley (project manager), and Matt Williams (shop assistant) use traditional methods and time-tested joinery to make furniture out of hardwoods like cherry, walnut, and oak. Their designs are intended to be handsome, timeless, and practical.

“Every part of our furniture is functional,” Petersen says. “We take a great deal of pride in the furniture we create for customers and local businesses.” Like the Paul Lounge Chair, named after Petersen’s dad. “Dad had a tough time getting out of a chair I created, so I made him the Paul Lounge Chair. It sits higher and was much easier on Dad’s back.”

Or the Draper Sideboard, named after Don Draper of Mad Men. “It reminds me of furniture from that time period—around the mid-20th century. And because I like Mad Men,” Petersen explains.

Petersen and his team’s intense commitment to detail is obvious in each piece. Around town, their work is on display in the form of three gorgeous tables for The Market House Restaurant, and they made cabinets, desks, and credenzas for the KANEKO. But their work doesn’t just stay in Omaha.

TimberSmith’s Etsy page is full of five-star reviews and satisfied customers from all corners of the country who applaud Petersen’s work. Every custom project is an opportunity for Petersen and his team to express their creativity doing something they all love. For Petersen, furniture-making is all he’s ever known. It’s a skill he learned from his dad, who was taught by his dad. At 12, he started with a stool. And now, Petersen has his Bench.

“These last couple years have been a whirlwind,” he says with a laugh. 

Visit timbersmithgoods.com and benchomaha.com for more information.

Encounter

benpetersen1

Dumpster Dive Desk

March 21, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If suddenly ours was a world without trees, 28-year-old Kyle Petersen would still thrive as a woodworker. Credit his keen instincts for finding lost treasure in other people’s junk. As a favor to a friend in need of a bigger desk, Petersen channeled his MacGyver-like creative energies to make her a completely unique piece. He collected scraps of wood, including discarded shipping pallets and bits of Douglas fir he pulled from the walls of his parents’ home. No worries, his parents were remodeling their kitchen.

He has an affinity for the hot trend of repurposing found items to fill a home. Using found and discarded materials, he has also built a headboard out of pallets, and cubbies out of a piece of plywood.  “It’s not so focused on perfection and how beautiful it is,” he says. “What’s beautiful behind it is the purpose of it.” Although he grew up tinkering in the shop with his carpenter father, Petersen dreamed of a career in audio recording after graduating from Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb. But now Petersen is blossoming as a cabinetmaker with a yen for recycling refuse. He works by day at Eurowood Cabinets and finds himself making furniture for friends and family in his spare time. “It’s taking my desire to create and combining it with the knowledge I have in this area and growing it from there,” he says.

First, he collected different species of hardwood material for the desktop. ”They’re not ideal pieces. It is waste essentially,” Petersen says.  He squared and planed each piece, and then assembled the desktop in a butcher-block fashion with clamps and wood glue. He then sanded it down before finishing with an espresso brown stain and a few coats of lacquer. “It’s cool using a bunch of different pieces of wood,” he says. “It will take the stain differently which is kind of a neat effect.”

20140109_bs_0396

For the drawers, he disassembled a pallet, squared and planed the boards to make the front, back, and side panels. He then stained the drawers with the same espresso shade and lacquer.

For the drawer box frame, he used a sheet of maple plywood he bought for $50. He cut a rectangle out of the center of the two sides of the wood to make the box “see through” and mitered the whole box together. For the drawer rails, he used oak. Then he sanded and finished everything.

Finally, he tapered the legs with a band saw. The drawer box and legs both come off the desktop, making it easy to disassemble for transport. The legs are fastened with bolts counter-sunk into the desktop. Total time? About 30 hours. The hardest part? Staying patient.

“I learned when to walk away from it for the day,” he says. He says anyone can do it, especially with found materials. All they need to do is try. “There’s a lot of wood out there. Build something.”