Woodworking visit #1: A trip to Zongkers Custom Furniture, Inc.

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Blog entry by Douglas Bordner posted 08-26-2008 06:37 AM 9162 reads 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I had the opportunity to do a real shop visit today, to the woodworking lair of LJ Dennis Zongker, a fellow Omahan. Unfortunately my stepson had the camera for my grandson’s first birthday, but Dennis has posted his workshop on the site. Dennis and his brother Dan head up a team of 10 in a big shop, with some impressive machinery and a big beautiful spray room. Of particular interest was the Ornamental milling machine and a double layered vacuum press table. Of course there were a handful of big Delta Unisaws, a big ole Powermatic lathe, a score of PC routers and in the office area – a dedicated marquetry/parquetry and carving set up.

The place was bustling with activity, with high-end work being done on conference tables for NASA and a big custom Chicago Bears bed. Dennis also showed me the window method work he recently posted. He does his homework, with several practice pieces and no stopping until the piece is right. I also got to sidle up to the astounding Griffin table. Dennis was down-to-earth and accessible to questions, and I was able to see the gleam in his eyes as he discussed his progress in the craft and his love of discovery as he follows his curiosity and perfects areas of embellishment (finishing, carving, marquetry). I recognize the fire that burns in this gentleman, and his desire for perfection that can be touched in the final piece.

I also got a signed copy of his recent publication in Wood Carving Illustrated. Before I even had a chance to get it up to the “reading room”, Pam had glommed onto it. This is good… I gave her a Flexcut set of interchangeable blades and a palm handle a few years back, and they have been idle. She needed a clue to the first steps, and there was plenty that fit right into that path in this fine magazine. He was also kind enough to offer up some short ends and hardwood scraps – just the sort of thing that makes this small box guy and notorious pack-rat drool…

Thanks Dennis for the invitation to visit. I hope that you won’t come to regret it. At least next time lunch will be on me!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

10 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4312 days

#1 posted 08-26-2008 07:09 AM

You lucky dog!!

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4061 days

#2 posted 08-26-2008 07:22 AM

Yep, lucky dog indeed. I certainly owe a great debt of gratitude to this site for the friends I’ve made and the information and goodies they have freely given. Now if Deb and Martin would free up the corporate jet, I’d come visit your shop too, Dennis (and Lee, Karson, Gary, Dick and Barb’s lakeside retreat, Dorje and his magical woodpile and big old lathe, Charlie’s garage, Trifern’s…). What a great community!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3765 days

#3 posted 08-26-2008 01:17 PM

I am soooo jealous! I would love to see first hand real creativity unfold. Thanks for sharing Douglas.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

#4 posted 08-26-2008 02:10 PM

It sounds like Dennis’s talents as a host rival his woodworking skills.

On the one hand, I’d love to have taken the tour with you, Doug. On the other, it would be hard to go back to the garage dungeon after that!

Now the big question: Did he pass the shop inspection? <g>

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2734 posts in 3590 days

#5 posted 08-26-2008 03:26 PM

Thank you, Douglas. It was a pleasure having you here at are shop. You were here for almost one hour and it felt like it was only five minutes. You are a very knowledgeable woodworker and It was a joy giving you a tour of our shop. I really liked our conversation on marquetry. There isn’t to many people that come down to the shop that have any idea what marquetry is all about. Most of our customers love what marquetry looks like, but they have no idea how many steps are involved.

Douglas I think you have been doing your homework and I would bet in the near future that your marquetry will be even better.

-- Dennis Zongker

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4061 days

#6 posted 08-26-2008 05:54 PM

Charlie, I’m sure Deb wouldn’t mind if Dennis got a visit certificate, but since it wasn’t technically a Ms.DebbieP visit I’d better check with the boss. Maybe she will wander by…

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Chardt's profile


169 posts in 3599 days

#7 posted 08-26-2008 07:14 PM

That would be a lot of fun.

I need to meet more of the Seattle Area LJ’s, and hopefully learn some new techniques.

-- When my wife ask's what I have to show for my wood working hobby, I just show her the splinters.

View Grumpy's profile


23917 posts in 3849 days

#8 posted 08-26-2008 10:43 PM

Nice one Douglas, thats a great workshop Dennis.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4097 days

#9 posted 08-27-2008 04:52 AM

I am green with envy. If I make it back down to Omaha I am stopping in their too!

I was pretty excited to see him join LJ. I wondered how long it would be before you got down there.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Texasgaloot's profile


464 posts in 3698 days

#10 posted 09-29-2008 10:17 PM

Maybe I should just stick to my humble, drafty, cupped-floor board, see-through-the-cracks-in-the-sheathing barn/shop. I get envious whenever I just see a level floor!

Thanks for sharing the tour through your eyes, Douglas!

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

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