Local artists head to Woodpalooza

Gary Leake, a woodworker based in Coupeville, will feature this chair at Woodpalooza.  - photo courtesy of Gary Leake
Gary Leake, a woodworker based in Coupeville, will feature this chair at Woodpalooza.
— image credit: photo courtesy of Gary Leake

To many of us, furniture is a household necessity. We may have a favorite chair to relax in after work and beyond that, we don’t spend much time thinking about it.

But for master woodworkers, creating fine cabinetry and tables can be an art, or even part of a legacy.

“My grandfather and great-grandfather were cabinet makers and antique dealers,” Coupeville woodworker Gary Leake said.

The Bayview Corner Open Door Community Gallery in Langley will showcase work by Leake and other members of the Whidbey Island Woodworkers Guild Sept. 4 to 13, in the sixth annual “Woodpalooza.”

It is the only show on Whidbey Island to exclusively feature woodworkers.

“It’s the Cadillac, Mercedes and Ferraris of the woodworkers,” Leake said.

The woodworkers guild formed about eight years ago and held occasional meetings in neighboring wood shops. After they became more organized, the guild decided to launch a show, partly as a challenge to each other and to also promote the craft.

“There is a lot of talent on the island but we’re our own worst enemies. We work in small shops and don’t advertise much,” Leake said.

Leake said he personally came to his craft late in life, leaving behind a career as an electrical engineer. Many of the woodworking tools in his shop were used by his grandfather.

“My grandfather passed away in 1973 and I’ve kept his antiques alive and repaired,” Leake said.

Several of Leake’s pieces are Shaker-style furniture (simple and timeless) or contemporary.

“We tend to push the envelope of our comfort a little bit rather than building what we usually build,” Leake said of the show.

The show will feature several case furniture items, such as tables and desks. But there will also be other unique objects, including wooden recorders and Japanese Bento boxes. A couple of the woodworkers are Native American-style carvers.

About 17 guild members will display their work. They will also take turns staffing the event.

The week-long event is free and opens with a reception on Friday, Sept. 4 and each of the pieces are for sale.

The Open Door Gallery will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you would like to attend the reception or need more information contact Gary Leake at 678-1347, or email at

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