Woodcraft to Sponsor Krenov School Scholarship

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Kristi Williams works on a wooden portfolio project at The Krenov School during her first year in the fine woodworking program. She designed the spalted western maple portfolio with hidden dovetail joinery and custom shop-made brass handles. Williams, a resident of Australia, is in her second year at The Krenov School. (Photo credit: Michelle Frederick)

As part of its corporate focus on woodworking education, Woodcraft Supply has decided to support The Krenov Foundation Scholarship Program for the school that internationally acclaimed author, teacher and cabinetmaker James Krenov founded in 1981.

The Krenov Foundation, established in 2014, awards several substantial scholarships each year to students attending The Krenov School, supports fine furniture shows, and has begun digitizing images of Krenov’s work. Visit thekrenovfoundation.org to learn more.

“Woodcraft welcomes the opportunity to help students who wish to pursue a fine woodworking education at The Krenov School, an institution that continues to pursue excellence in woodworking instruction that reflects James Krenov’s legacy,” President and CEO Jack Bigger said.

After Krenov died on Sept. 9, 2009, the Times of London online included a lengthy review of his life that began: “In outline, James Krenov’s cabinets are conventional. It is in the way in which they display a creator in total harmony with his raw material – wood in all its vitality and variety – that they are extraordinary,” followed by praise for his attention to the details of the wood used, as well as the joinery.

James Krenov was born on October 31, 1920, to Dimitri and Julia Krenov, Russian citizens who were teaching in Siberia at the time. He grew up in Alaska and Seattle and later lived in Sweden, where he became interested in cabinetmaking and enrolled in Carl Malmsten’s School for two years. He then embarked on a cabinetmaking career that later embraced writing about and teaching fine woodworking. (Photo courtesy of The Krenov School)

Despite a period of financial hardship, Krenov refused to cut corners in his cabinetmaking, reflecting a passion for excellence that led to writing five books, teaching and awards. When he was asked to start the Fine Woodworking Program at the College of the Redwoods, in Fort Bragg, California, in 1981, he was famous in his field. For the next 21 years, he taught hundreds of students from around the world while continuing to build furniture.

Krenov wrote the following as part of an introduction to students in 1997:

“We hope that in viewing what we are offering here, you will pay attention to the details, notice the results, and come to realize that if one cares enough, if one pays enough attention to the richness of wood, to the tools, to the marvel of one’s own hands and eye, all these things come together so that a person’s work becomes that person; that person’s message.”

To learn more about Krenov, visit thekrenovlschool.org

Gian Scarabino, a first-year student in 2017-2018, works on a pear side table project at The Krenov School. (Photo credit: Laura Mays)

In 2016, Mendocino College took over the administration of Krenov’s program, which is now The Krenov School, but is still located in Fort Bragg, California. The intense nine-month fine woodworking program open to 23 students at a time, is six days a week, eight hours a day and divided into two semesters. Some students opt to go a second year for more advanced instruction. Although machinery is used at the school, the focus is on teaching students to use hand tools and learn to design and execute a project on their own.

Listen below to Laura Mays, director of The Krenov School, describe the curriculum in a 2016 interview with Ron Hock, treasurer of the foundation and owner of Hock Tools.

The Krenov Foundation will accept scholarship applications for The Krenov School’s 2020-2021 nine-month program from March 1 to March 31, 2020. 

It is inspiring to read about the Krenov School and to view the online gallery of student work. Hats off to all the folks who work hard to keep James Krenov’s program available to those who are passionate about learning to work with wood.


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