My passion in woodwork is based in a love for the beauty and unique character in wood. I have “woodlust”, and collect amazing pieces from where ever I can find them! My goal is to bring out this charater, asking “hummm, what do you want to be?” and the wood speaks to me and the piece begins.

Aloha, this will be an ongoing blog around the building of a new Koa Surfboard. (scroll to bottom to see the process:)

Here we are 3 month after the Koa was picked out to the finish Surfboard :)

Amazing wood, wow, I love Koa!!!

10’3″ Curly Maui Koa Hot Curl Surfboard

This pix shows both sides of the same board :)

This one sold recently at the Native Intelligence Gallery in Wailuku.


Update: June 22, 2011

The board has been blessed with salt water!

So much fun – we will do it again!!!


So much fun – we will do it again!!!


Update: June 15, 2011

This quote inspired me to make my 1st wood board.

I have an inner struggle with how “perfect” to make um, then I remember these words and stop when it feels good!


Update: June 13, 2011

Rough shaping done…


June 2011


<<<<  This one sold recently at the Native Intelligence Gallery in Wailuku.


This meant a new one was in order.

Finding Koa the size and quality for a 10 foot surfboard is not easy or inexpensive.

A couple years ago I helped cut some massive slabs at our local mill on Maui.

So, I went to see if they were ready for use. ( It takes year or two for the wood to air dry after milling.)

Sure enough it was ready to go and after searching through a  few slabs, I found the one that would produce the board I wanted.

Roughly 11 feet by 24 inches of shimmering curly Koa from high on the  side of  Haleakala, east of the park.

Back at home, I hand planed the rough cut sides to reveal the amazing grain and shimmering curl.

A  Hot Curl template was selected and rough fitted to the piece of wood.

It will yielded a 10’+, by 19″  wide, around 2″ thick!

More to come….



Living out in the middle of the Pacific ocean has it’s advantages,

clean air, clear skies and on Maui a 10,000 foot volcano offer never-ending opportunities.

A photographer by the name of  Wally Pacholka inspired me to give it a go a couple years ago.

Click here to see those shots.  

I’ve been hooked ever sense. Moon shots, night sugar can burns, planetary events and of coarse starry nights.

But none have generated the response this shot of the Milky Way over the top of  Haleakala.

I’ve been getting asked quite a bit about the recent Milky Way shot:

Is this for real? How did you do this? Is this Photoshopped? Is it HDR? Did you use fill lighting? And what were the settings?

Here are the stats… Canon 7D, 16mm fish-eye, 30s, 2.8, iso 1600 – a couple seconds of my headlamp for the foreground,

a couple second with a spot light on the building. Camera on the ground (on wadded up surf trunks to be exact – forgot my sandbag :)

2s timer – Processed in Camera Raw 7.0 CS6 – Here is a screen shot of bridge showing the default raw file and the finished jpg.

Screen shot in bridge. Here you can see the raw file and the edited jpg, also some of the other takes that evening.

Let me know if this is helpful…

Thanks for all the all  likes, shares, comments and interest in this picture on FB.

Subscribe to my Facebook page here :)

12×18 Aluminum Print with a Natural Edge Koa and Mango Frame

Custom prints and frames are available.



  • One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of my craft, is taking a clients concepts for a piece and creating it. I love to the see how the “artistic freedom” that is a part of the process plays out. I have to admit, I don’t “see” the finished work in my mind before I start. It’s an adventure for me to see how the process, reveals something special.
  • This project started with a phone call from the Maui Hands Gallery, Craig and Yvonne were interested in a Curly Koa bench.  As we talked on the phone, I felt their ideas were right up my alley. We met at my studio to get some sketches and budget estimates on paper. After seeing my work, shop (humble and messy) and wood types available, it was a go.
  • The hardest part of making anything in Curly Koa is finding the wood, this bench was to be 5 feet long, so would require a large amount of matching wood. I work with several mills on Maui and the Big Island, but it is still a challenge to find the quality and quantity of dry wood (wet wood adds months to the project) at a price in the budget. On the second visit to a local Maui mill the owner remembered some old wood stashed away in the loft of the machine shop. This required crawling around  a dusty loft with a flashlight, moving stacks of wood searching for this hidden treasure. Once it was found, I measured and selected each board to see if the components needed could be made. It was as if this wood was just waiting here all these years just for this project!
  • Raw slab wood is kind of  like raw diamonds, you never really know what you have until your start cutting.  As I planned the branches, the amazing quality, we call curly, revealed itself. This was some of the finest wood I had ever worked with! This really inspires me, as I lay out the design and components on each slab of wood, matching the grain and figure to the function and display  of the finished bench. After this process, I came up short a couple pieces, so back to the mill/loft to look for more.
  • Now that I had the wood and the plan shapes drawn out, it’s time to go to the saws and cut them out.  At this point the rough cut pieces are usually stacked and let dry for a week to a month. This wood was completely dry, so I was able to get right to the shaping.
  • Each piece must be hand cut and shaped, mortises and tendons fitted using mechanical and electric tools. Sculptured elements are carefully hand carved, ground and sanded to the desired forms. These raw forms are sealed and sanded to a near finished smoothness. Each joint is dry fitted and prepared for gluing. Every measurement,  angle and  connection must be right, as I use marine epoxy , very difficult to adjust or remove. Section by section the bench beings to take form. Many adjustment and refinements later  it is assembled and ready to sand. Every surface and joint is sanded and sealed over and over until it is one flowing piece. Now it will sit for a week or two to cure and see if there is any movement in the joints and seams.
  • The final stage is the finish. On this bench we choose a clear lacquer. This is done with many fine layers, hand sanded between coats to reduce build up.  When the seal is uniform and velvet to the touch, the final step of hand rubbing it with a blend of oils and waxes to leave  a silky natural feel.
  • After another week of curing the bench was ready to ship to it’s new home in Northern California. The Shotwell’s remodeled  the entryway  in their home for this custom piece. It is such an honor to work with such great people, to make something special.
  • Aloha, Mike
  • Turning bowls is one of most satisfying things I do in wood. There is something raw and exciting about taking a chunk of wood and turning it into a useful and beautiful vessel. There alot of inherent risks involved with the process. It takes a commitment to sacrifice an expensive piece of wood.

  • There is a very real chance that it will have a flaw inside or you make a mistake and it explodes off of the lathe at 1500+ rpms. There is also the flying wood chips and dust created while carving though the wood with a razor sharp gouge or knife. On the other side of the risk is the reward. Creating a graceful shape, revealing the hidden beauty of the wood and aesthetic value of both form and function, keep me on the edge of anticipation. Each calabash or vase is unique, the pattern of the wood, the curve of the shape and history of the piece of wood adds to the sense of satisfaction to each one I make.

  • I have also been carving intricate patterns into these forms, adding to the sculptural aspect of the turning process.
  • There are some master turners on Maui, their work is the inspiration that keep following in their path. Check out the links below to see some of their work.

Tom Calhoun – Maui

Guus Mauri – Maui

Jim Meekhof – Maui

Al Rabold – Maui

Shaun Fleming – Maui

Jack Ewing – Molokai

  • Koa is the most beautiful wood I have had the pleasure to work with. The color, texture and amazing three dimensional depth, put it in a class of it’s own. A variety of the Acacia tree family, unique to Hawaii. It grows to be eighty plus feet tall, from sea level to near the tops of the mountains. Unfortunately it is also rare, having been cleared for cattle and burned to process sugar in the late 1800’s. There is a movement to restore it, but that’s another story.

  • The wood that I use for my creations comes from “windfall” trees, downed by the forces of natural. None of the mills I work with cut live trees, so it is often difficult and expensive to come by.
  • This particular  piece of wood is from a tree from the upper slops of East Haleakala on Maui. It had been on the ground for a while, so it had begun to decay. This process called “spalting” can add dramatic color and depth to the wood.

  • When I’m looking for a piece for a rocker, there are two things I look for, structural integrity and dynamic patterns in the figure and curl. I look for natural curve in the grain for the runners and solid straight grains for the support components, as well as distinctive patterns and curl for the arms, seat and headrest. This can take some time, at $45-$65 a board foot (12″x12″x1″) you don’t want to make a mistake.
  • After selecting the raw slabs, I lay out the design (each chair is different, as I do not use stock templates) and rough cut the various components. These pieces are stacked in my drying shed to stabilize. After two months they were ready to be shaped and sanded to a near finished point before assembly.
  • Each component must be hand fitted to ensure tight joints. This process takes weeks, as each section is glued and cured. Each rocker’s wood has a different weight and balance point that must be careful worked out before the final glue up. I use a marine epoxy and waterproof glue,  so it needs to be right the first time. I let the glued up chair sit for a few weeks to cure and stabilize before finishing.
  • The next step is to sand the entire chair over and over, applying thin layers of lacquer sealer until all the grains and joints are baby bottom smooth. A final lacquer finish is sprayed and a hand rubbed wax and oil is applied.
  • My goal in a rocker is to create a piece of furniture that is both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, revealing the amazing beauty of the wood.


This chair was SOLD at Native Intelligence 

Hi, my name is Mike and I’m a woodaholic.

You can ask my wife, I cannot pass up a slab of Maui’s amazing hardwoods. It started at yard sales, a piece here, a piece there, till I had to build a shed to store them. Then I found the mill, oh my, the “candy store” for someone with woodlust. I began hanging around the millyard (100s of logs and piles of slabbed wood) looking through every pile looking for just the right piece. Whether it’s Koa, Mango, Monkey pod, Norfork Pine, or Opeuma, I love um all.

I also love driftwood. Whenever we have big storms with heavy rains, you will find me searching the river-mouths for chunks of battered and beaten pieces of wood. So anyway, now my backyard is piles of wood, every nook and cranny in the shop is piled high.

Woodlust, ya I’ve got it, because wood “speaks” to me. I mean, I see a piece a wood and it says “rocker” or “fish sculpture” or “treasure box”, it lets me know what it wants to be. Every piece of wood has a story, in this section of the blog, I will share the history of the wood and the process it took to become what it “told” me to make.