James Krenov, 1920-2009


A woodworking teacher and writer whose influence will live on.
By Ron Hock
Pages: 44-45

From the December 2009 issue #180
Buy this issue now

There is a short list of woodworkers whose work defines a style and is recognizable at first glance. Those on it have undeniably influenced other woodworkers, shaped our culture and molded our tastes. James Krenov is on that list.

Jim (everyone called him “Jim” or “JK”), who died Sept. 9, 2009, in Fort Bragg, Calif., was born in Wellen, Siberia in 1920. He moved to Shanghai as a child before emigrating with his family to Alaska. The Krenovs later moved to Seattle where Jim built and refurbished yachts at Jensen Motorboat, later serving as a Russian Language Interpreter for the Lend-Lease Program before and during WWII.

Then he moved again, this time to Europe where Jim began to build architectural models. He met his future bride, Britta, in Paris; they were married in 1951. He attended the Malmsten School in Stockholm for two years before striking out on his own, gradually building a reputation for innovative design. Following the publication of his first book, “A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook,” Jim began teaching woodworking at schools around the world. His influence as an artisan with a viewpoint and passion reached far beyond his classrooms and his own shop.

Online Extra

* Click here to read about our visit to Krenov’s Fine Woodworking Program at the College of the Redwoods.


From the December 2009 issue #180
Buy this issue now