Get to know a pro: Ryan Shervill

We sat down with contributing editor Ryan Shervill to learn more about our pro

By Lora Kee

Ryan Shervill

Photo by Roger Yip

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What’s your least favourite thing to do in the shop?

Prototyping, for sure. It’s definitely necessary, especially when working with complex designs, but something about building a project that you know will never be a “finished” piece bothers me. I know it’s not a waste of time, but it sure feels like it is sometimes.

What’s the most challenging woodworking project you’ve built?

Butcher block countertopProbably the Butcher Block Island I did for the Master’s Workshop at the CHW show in March 2010. It was really big, really heavy, really complex, and really time-consuming. It took somewhere around 200 hours total and incorporated a lot of techniques that I wanted to try as a challenge to myself—stuff like the ganged mortise and tennons demanded perfect execution, and then there was the 3D top. I still get shivers thinking about that glue up!

What’s your favorite woodworking style?

My personal style has been described as a blending of Arts and Crafts with Asian design, and whenever I can I try to bring that style into my work. The Mission movement focused on solid construction rather than adornment as a design feature, and builders like Croft, Stickley and Greene demonstrated that function could be beautiful. Asian design tends to be very organic, with focus on how materials and shapes both blend and contrast each other. It almost tells a story. I lean towards Asian inspired lines with Mission construction and philosophy.

Whose work in the woodworking or home-reno world do you admire?

In the woodworking world, without a doubt it would be Sam Maloof. Sam took his vision of what furniture should be and shaped the medium to match it. The result was a very distinctive style that challenged both traditional thinking on furniture design/construction, making Maloof an icon in the woodworking world. Sam is one of very few craftsmen in history where you can look at one of his chairs and know instantly “That’s a Sam Maloof rocker.” Once you see the sweeping lines and organic shapes that make up his work you’ll have a real example of how function and art can be one and the same.

The person I admire most in the home reno world? I’d have to say it is the next “regular” person to decide “I can do that” and make the leap into doing a project themselves that they might otherwise not consider. It takes real courage to take on something unknown, and real work to get to the finish line, but the satisfaction at the end is definitely worth it.

Do you have any big projects in the works around the home or in the shop?

In the summer of 2010 I took on the House Front Rebuild, which is on the cover of the Sept. 2011 Issue. This past summer we went bigger and did the “Maximum Makeover.” This was an entire gut and rebuild of the inside of the home, and it was finished in time to reveal the first part in the October 2011 issue, where we covered the brand new kitchen.

So what’s on tap for Summer 2012? I can’t say, but it’s going to be cool. Stay tuned!

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