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“I am like a wood butcher,” says Josh Vogel as he examines a hunk of lumber in his Kingston, New York, woodworking shop. And like any good butcher, Vogel takes a nose-to-tail approach to his craft: Depending on what he sees in the timber, he might fashion it into one of his elegant turned-wood art pieces, or a series of hand-carved kitchen cutting boards. He whittles the leftover scraps into graceful spoons and other cooking utensils, then brings whatever oddments and shavings remain to his century-old home a few miles away, where he uses them as mulch and feeds them to a smoldering fire in his backyard smoker. Inside the smoke box today, a brined turkey takes on such a rich mahogany color that it, too, appears to be carved from wood.
“There’s this marriage between the wood I use when smoking and the kitchen tools that I make,” says the soft-spoken Vogel, who cofounded the New York City design and furniture company BDDW before moving upstate in 2005. At first, he was reluctant to venture into the kitchen-tools business. “To me, cutting boards were mass-produced items, and I want to make one-of-a-kind things,” he says. “But then I came around to this handmade idea. My boards have absolutely no glue and no joints, they’re just single pieces of wood. I have to carve each handle, find that form in every piece of wood.”
Today, Vogel sells his art pieces and kitchen creations through a select group of boutiques (some as far-flung as Japan) and the website of his business, Blackcreek Mercantile & Trading Co., which he started four years ago with his partner, Kelly Zaneto.