In Interviews

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We’re interviewing makers from across the country. Today we’re featuring Alexis Dolese, a furniture maker and woodworking instructor from Montana.

How did you get started woodworking? Who were your mentors?

I grew up in a family of woodworkers. My dad, Tom Dolese, has had a fine furniture business for over 30 years and my mom, Jennifer Dolese, is an artist doing marquetry, leaded glass and tile. When I started to get interested in woodworking I had a great community of mentors and educators, not just working alongside my parents but luckily learning from very talented woodworkers in the northwest that were connected to my family.

What do you think is your best or favorite work? What kind of work do you do the most?

My most rewarding work is teaching woodworking classes. Getting to know all kinds of people with a common interest in woodworking and seeing them build a piece of furniture that they are proud of is one of my favorite experiences. I always learn something new from each person that I have the privilege to work with as well. I also build custom pieces or furniture. I like to co-design with my clients, this lets me to be always building something new and making sure my clients are pleased as well.

What advice would you give to someone that wants to start woodworking or pursue it as a profession?

Realize that you are not just an artist but also a business person. Valuing yourself, and taking the time to coordinate and communicate with clients is so important. I also recommend trying to find a local or online community of woodworkers. No matter what their skill is, having a community to take a problem to or get feedback with is so valuable!

What’s your best hands-on tip or woodworking technique? 

Focus on the basics. When building something, make sure you know how to make square, well-processed stock; things will go so much smoother for you. If you do not account for wood movement when processing wood you end up getting warping which is going to just compound on errors if you are building furniture. Also, realize when the tool is working for you or against you, taking the time to set up your tools so they are working properly will save you so much grief. All the lessons that I’ve learned the hard way a few times!


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A post shared by Alexis Dolese (@dolese_woodworks)

Is there anyone you’d like to shout-out or recommend we follow? Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be woodworking related, either.)

There are a few women woodworkers that have started out woodworking at the same time as me that have been a great support system. Annalise Rubida who works at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Cass Tiegs with Dogtown Woodworks are a couple of them. I am also really inspired by the woodworking community that I got to learn in: Tom Dolese, Seth Rolland, Stewert Wurtz, Martin McCain, Kevin Reiswig are just a few of the people I had the pleasure to learn from and am always impressed with their willingness to help and share when they can.

See more of Alexis’s work on Instagram @dolese_woodworks and her website:

This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

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