Kuklinski Woodworking makes shift away from retail

  • Wood slabs waiting for Tom Kuklinski. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Tom Kuklinski in what will be his new workshop at his Shelburne Falls home. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Tom Kuklinski’s sign from his former shop on Route 2 in Shelburne. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Tom Kuklinski with a finished slab and his stockpile of slabs he has cut with his sawmill. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Tom Kuklinski in what will be his new workshop at his Shelburne Falls home. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Tom Kuklinski has plenty of air-drying slabs of maple and other local trees in storage. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 6/16/2022 2:00:58 PM

SHELBURNE FALLS — A TikTok video shows Tom Kuklinski sticking the handle of his brush deep into a piece of wood, showing off the rotten parts of a tree — his bounty. He is preparing a single slab of wood to become a tabletop.

Kuklinski has moved his business, Kuklinski Woodworking, from 1400 Mohawk Trail to a barn connected to his house, downsizing the company while focusing more on his creative passions. He is renovating the barn to accommodate his work, and will then start taking new orders.

“I just recognized that retail is not for me,” he said.

When Kuklinski opened the retail space on Route 2, he imagined the business would expand. He hoped to hire employees. However, he quickly began working the retail space as well as making all the products on his own, never hiring additional employees.

Kuklinski explained he received more traffic from the retail space, but had less time to do his carpentry work. Moving to his barn will provide a better working environment for his craft.

Kuklinski has been woodworking for 30 years, but did not have obvious beginnings. He grew up north of Boston, and studied music education at the Berklee College of Music. After college, he did not want to go directly into teaching, so he got a carpentry job.

“Creating something with my hands resonated with me,” Kuklinski said. He pivoted his career path to full-time carpentry.

After working in the field for some time, Kuklinski’s friends began asking him to repair furniture.

“Skill-wise, it fit with me,” Kuklinski said. He again transitioned his career, this time to full-time furniture work.

“I find the work fulfilling,” he explained. “It is a great creative outlet.”

Kuklinski noted there is a long craft tradition locally. People across the country have deep interest in supporting and buying pieces of furniture from western Massachusetts and New England.

“The slabs are amazing because I see a tree,” he said, “and I see a beautiful figure that no one has ever seen in that tree. Then I am able to share that beauty.”

Kuklinski is able to share the beauty he makes now more than ever because of his social media presence. A family member suggested making a TikTok video of his work. One video quickly received more than 1 million views and racked up 20,000 followers.

His videos became popular because of the woodworking trend on social media that has transformed the woodworking community. Kuklinski said many people started repairing furniture because they could not afford replacements. It then became many people’s hobby and passion.

Along with furniture, Kuklinski has also spent time doing historical conservation. One project sent him to the White House’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building. However, Kuklinski said he did not enjoy the travel aspect of historical conservation and pivoted back to furniture making and repair.

Offering advice for new woodworkers, Kuklinski said, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn by doing.” He noted the craft is much more accessible today thanks to YouTube how-to videos than it has been in the past.

“The faster the world goes, and the more impermanent it all is, the more rewarding it is to make something tangible,” Kuklinski said about woodworking today.

Kuklinski has a waitlist to purchase his furniture. People can add their names to the waitlist at his website, kuklinskiwoodworking.com. He plans to teach woodworking classes in the future, but does not have set programs for classes at this time.

This article has been modified to clarify that Kuklinski only sells finished pieces of furniture.

Contact Bella Levavi
at 413-930-4579 or
blevavi@recorder.com.


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.


Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
 

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy