Designed to be unique one of a kind family heirlooms.
Located in Hawai'i on O'ahu's North Shore,
Ben Wilkinson Designs is an exclusive salvage operation.
At Wilkinson Designs, we source all of our materials from locally salvaged trees. We never cut down trees just to use the wood. There are many reasons for a tree to be cut down, for example, diseased trees, a tree blown over in a storm, or for safety reasons if a tree is in a hazardous spot and were to fall over and cause damage to a bystander or property. We believe there is an abundance of resources much of which will go to landfill if we weren't to step in.
It all starts from the log salvage which is the most exciting phase of the process because of the challenge. It is often very challenging to remove large tree trunks especially if there is limited access to where the log is located. We work with the homeowners, arborists, and sometimes have to bring in heavy cranes or large machines to move these huge logs. The next phase is the milling. We operate a Lucas Mill and cut various species at various lengths and thicknesses. Milling is where a lot of wood enthusiast get hooked because every slab is different and you can't wait to see what the next cut reveals. Following the milling phase is the stacking and drying process. Slabs are usually kept together in the log they are cut from and most of our slabs will be air dried at an inch a year. This means if you cut the slabs 2 inches thick they will usually take two years to be dry enough to use for furniture. After the slabs are getting close to being dry, we pull them into the shop to fully finish. We then start to create one of a kind functional art pieces. We take great pride in not just making beautiful pieces but giving the tree a second life and a great "home" where they will be enjoyed for generations to come. Sometimes the designs make themselves known from early on and sometimes it might take a while. The wood slabs have a way of getting what they want at the end of the day.
All of the pieces are designed by Ben Wilkinson. He says that the wood will talk to him in its own way and sometimes is very hard to look past a certain piece that wants to start its new lease on life. “Sometimes an idea will just jump out and bite me!” Then other times some wood will sit in the shop for years and all of a sudden a perfect idea for the use of this beautiful Hawaiian resource will come to fruition.
Ben Wilkinson, Owner/Craftsman
Ben Wilkinson was born in Sydney, Australia in 1982. He currently resides in Haleiwa on Oahu's North Shore. Ben started out as a carpenter serving his apprenticeship under master Northern Beaches builder, Jimmy Miller. Ben says he gets most of his skills honed while working with Miller. Ben always had a yearning to work with natural slab materials, but it wasn't until many years later, out of necessity, that he forged his progression into furniture. Ben has been working actively as a carpenter to fund his big wave exploits, but would find himself without a job after chasing swells and competing on the big wave world tour, then he started to dream of a perfect job that would enable him to do what he loved in life.
Big Wave Surfing is another passion of his. Ben was formerly #2 on the Big Wave World Tour and has surfed in numerous events from Chile to Mavericks. In 2016, Ben achieved a life-long goal by competing in the prestigious Eddie Aikau Big Wave Surfing Competition at Waimea Bay, just down the road from where he resides with his family, his love Denise and their sons Maleko, named after his father Mark, and newborn, Makakoa. Ben is most proud of his young family and is currently a brand ambassador for Patagonia. Ben owes a lot of his good fortune in Hawaii to the friends he has made while chasing big waves, paddling canoe, and to his mentor/father figure/good mate, Jay Behrens, who has given him many opportunities and guidance.