Monk's Harvest Artisan Home Furnishings
An Inteview with Douglas Monk
AA- How did you get started?
I think this is how it happened...a few years back, we rented out one of our 100 year old barns to two women who sold antiques, and repurposed furniture. They would host an antique show 3 or 4 times a year (think American Pickers) and I approached them about selling harvest tables out of reclaimed lumber at their events. I noticed that many times someone was looking for a specific size or look, and rather than me pre-building something and the ladies trying to sell it, I decided to custom build pieces to order.
AA- How long have you been making furniture from reclaimed barn wood?
Off and on now for at least five years.
AA-Why do you do it?
I am a carpenter/builder by profession and I thought this would be a perfect kind of work to dove-tail into my regular job. I grew up on a farm, and also love history, so building tables and other items out of reclaimed wood combines several of my interests. My long-term goal is to work in the shop during the winter months building furniture, as well as on rainy days when we can't work outside, and continue to do house additions, etc.
AA-Why do you use reclaimed products?
As someone who has grown up on a farm, it grieves my heart when I see these old barns allowed to go into disrepair just because someone chooses not to keep them up. The lumber from the barns I use is full of character and you simply cannot duplicate the look from a piece of new wood.
AA-Do you sell all over the US?
I am located in Eastern Iowa and 90% of my work is for people within a 100 radius, although I have sold tables as far as Indiana, Kansas, and Minneapolis. Shipping something this big can get to be quite expensive, but if someone is willing to pay for shipping and packaging I am more than willing to build them a table.
AA-What is your best seller?
Custom built tables in the 6 to 7 ft length range, although I have built them as long as 12 ft long, and have material that is 20 ft long, so the sky is the limit on what I can do.
AA-What is your favorite type of wood to work with and why?
I work mostly with pine lumber. Now, this is not the pine you would buy today in your local lumberyard. I have no idea what species of pine most of the wood came from. Most of the lumber I work with is at least 100 years old, and like I said, it's not something you could buy new if you wanted to (and look like this)
Another detail I do with all of my tables. I like to attach a certificate of authenticity on the bottom of the table that tells a little bit about the barn that the wood came from. Sometimes I have been able to get a picture of the original structure, so I also include that on the certificate when possible. I record the month and year the table was built, and any other information I think would be relevant.
AA-Do you and your family use organic products in other ways?
I grow several things in our garden that while not certified organic, are chemically free, and just like something your great grandparents would have had in their garden 75 years ago. We also have a small apple orchard (100 trees) that where we grow and sell apples locally.
For more information about Doughas Monk and Monk's Harvest Home Furnishings go to https://www.facebook.com/monksharvest