Dan Purkapile ’12 in his Capstone Woodworking LLC workshop.
LESSONS IN WOOD A C A B I N E T M A K I N G P H I LO S O P H E R ON B E A U T Y
By ELIZABETH KELLY ‘08 CSMA
Every woodworker has their favorite species. For Dan Purkapile ’12 , it’s a toss-up depending on the project, but walnut and cherry are pretty high in the ranking. “When it comes to walnut or cherry, I never want to stain those woods,” he says, “If you’re going to stain something, use maple! Walnut is so beautiful, why would you stain it?” Walking around his workshop in New Brighton, Minnesota, the philosophy major and Catholic studies minor, now full-time
cabinetmaker, is happy to point out the characteristics of the wood pieces that lean against the walls, almost as if they were old friends. He selects a rough slab of red oak and holds it lovingly. “You see all the flecking in that wood, all the character?” he says, brushing his hands over it with admiration and care. He’s a bit like a child in a candy shop, delighting in each piece for its own unique contribution to the world of beauty and for what it will become – cabinet, vanity, church altar or pew.
“I love the products that you can make out of wood,” he says, “and there’s nothing to compare with the beauty of the natural product.” Even as a child, Purkapile loved working with his hands. His father, a motorcycle mechanic, would occasionally give Dan things to tinker with – like an old VCR – which Dan promptly took apart to see how the motor worked. After graduating high school, Purkapile decided to study stringed instrument repair and
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