Kevin Tunis, a Kerrville resident artisan woodworker, is among the talented entrants whose furniture is displayed in the current “Furniture Show” at the Kerr Arts & Cultural Center in downtown Kerrville.
Tunis’ entry is a “standing table” 44 inches high, 26 inches wide and 92 inches long.
“It could be used for wine-tasting, or a capucchino machine at a hotel,” Tunis said.
The top of the table is a single thick plank of Spalted Pecan that Tunis found locally after it had been stored outdoors and “air-dried” over about three and a half years.
“The longer it sits to air-dry, the more black lines can be seen in the ‘finished’ plank,” Tunis said. “And I left a ‘gentle’ or ‘eased edge’ on it.”
He said when most furnituremakers use a plank with a “live edge,” that rougher and natural edge is placed on the “down” side rather than the upper edge of a horizontally placed plank.
His table stands on heavy metal legs near each end.
Those legs were made from 4x4-inch square metal tubing by a metalworker who took Tunis’ drawings for measurements, and cut the vertical legs and the cross-bars, plus the slots that Tunis said are necessary for the nearly invisible expansion and contraction that continues in the heavy wood table top.
Then a specialty shop in Fredericksburg took all the metal pieces and put them through a baked-on “powder-coating” process to make the legs the “charcoal” color Tunis ordered, with a bit of “sparkle” incorporated into the paint.
He said the moisture content within the wood is a factor in the finished “color” of each furniture piece.
In his show-entry table, he said the natural pecan plus his chosen epoxy-resin finish makes the tabletop waterproof.
He applied that to his show entry about Oct. 15, and used a rag to rub it on, not a brush, he said.
“I love working with other artisans. And I could see this community, Kerrville, becoming more ‘artisan’ shops, especially downtown,” he said.
His finished table is for sale, he said, and his asking price is “probably about $4,500.”
Tunis said he and his wife LaVera are the design/build team in their business, with his wife the designer of the pair.
His price range for finished furniture ranges from about $4,000 to $25,000, he said.
“A lot of people still like to have solid wood furniture. I do whatever style comes into my head. Or when somebody commissions a piece for me to make, I spend time with the customer about his or her ‘style’.”
He said he makes a “sketch-up” first, for dimensions of the piece he envisions in his head. He uses a computer program called “Blender” to produce a rendering that looks like a photo.
Then he spends several days at mills selecting wood.
“I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist about finding the right ‘character’ in the wood. And my top two personal favorites are mesquite and pecan.
“I was self-taught all my life, including for furniture design. I ran a computer-hosting company for almost 20 years,” he said.
“But before that I had a wood-cutting shop. And now this is my fulltime job,” he said, gesturing toward the table he has entered in the KACC show.
He said he’d love to specialize in tables, above other designs.
Tunis said he grew up on a farm, so he was familiar with farm tools and machinery from an early age.
But he took his first “training” in a class in junior high school called “industrial arts.”
“I made a candleholder, with a larger-than-usual base for stability. And I hand-made the candle, too. And the teacher was impressed that I put a screw up through the bowl, holding the candle; and screwed that to the base,” Tunis said. “I also have made a knife-holder.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” he said. “And I’ve made ‘craft’ pieces in my workshop.”
Tunis and his wife have resided in Kerrville since late 2015, and lived in Kansas before that.
He said he grew up on a farm about 32 miles out in the country from the nearest town.
Tunis can be contacted about commercial and residential work, custom-made wood and steel tables, tops and bases through his website at https:/kevintunis.com; or by email at email@example.com; or by phone at 285-7418.