David and Christopher Steinrueck, Photos by Emily Hodges
Brother duo, David and Christopher Steinrueck, work out of their woodshop in the heart of San Francisco. After spending just a few moments inside a space that invites noise from wood slicing tools and is spotted with patches of fallen saw dust, it’s not hard to see that sustainability, craftsmanship, and community are the values that build the very foundation of their business, Wood Thumb. David, Chris, and their team salvage reclaimed wood’s natural beauty when crafting it into everyday function and modern design. From their Wooden Beer Caddy to their Magnetic Bottle Opener – their beautiful craftsmanship is obvious and “there is no part that is unnecessary and everything is created with intention.” Read on to find out what community means to David and Chris and why you might want to pop in for one of the woodworking classes that they offer the next time you find yourself in San Francisco.
What are your most essential tools?
Chop saw, table saw, router, and planer. But most importantly the dust mask and eyeglasses- safety first!
Where do you find inspiration within this space?
In the wood shop itself. I [Chris] need to work with my hands and so often times I like to go into the shop and just start creating.
What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
When things are handmade, you can’t cut corners.
How do you set goals for yourself?
We set 1 year, 5 year, and lifetime goals that most of the time are beyond reach. I write them down on a big board, and place it in my room so that it is the first thing I see when I wake up.
How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
Every day is a victory. We’re doing what we love and that feels pretty victorious! We celebrate by continuing on, but we also occasionally like to throw a good shop open house party.
What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
Always looking to learn new woodworking skills, especially for teaching, which has become a new segment of our business.
Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
Collaborations are the key to our success. We are not smart enough to grow a business, so we surround ourselves with people who are, and together bring high quality handcrafted products to market.
What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened during one of your classes or workshops?
At the end of classes we often bring out wooden engravers and it’s really great to see other creative minds at work. Folks add elements to their pieces which make them truly one of a kind. Also, we haven’t had any injuries, but it’s the people that have used tools before that always make mistakes.
What made you decide to start offering classes?
We realized there weren’t a lot, if any, wood shop classes offered in SF and we wanted to connect with our community more. We love being in the heart of SF and part of that is connecting with our community. What better way to connect than by opening a storefront and our factory for workshops?
Why is community involvement important to you?
Community is at the core of our business and life. We do Wood Thumb because it supports our community where we are able to be creative and make things by hand.
How did opening up your space to others impact your business? Does having a studio space that doubles as a learning environment provide any challenges?
It’s been great. It brings more awareness to Wood Thumb locally and gives people the opportunity to take credit for a product and talk about fond memories at Wood Thumb. The only challenge would be keeping the time organized.