MASTER WOODWOKER AND CRAFTSMAN
Founded in 1986 by Mike Mikutowski and his wife Liz, Mikutowski Woodworking is the definition of “small but mighty”. Many are shocked to learn that the fine woodworking shop, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and specializing in high-quality jewelry boxes, employs only about five people to take raw lumber through the largely hands-on assembly process. Another four employees bring the finished product through the invoicing, packing, and shipping stages; these individuals are also responsible for cultivating and maintaining customer relationships. Despite the small workforce, Mikutowski Woodworking manages to produce close to 40 different products and sells to high-end galleries from coast to coast. It’s fitting that the line carries the Mikutowski name. Simply put, Mike is the business. He designs the pieces, builds the jigs, and when necessary, creates custom equipment, all in the pursuit of a superior product. The fact that Mike’s woodworking techniques may be described as “old-school” only adds to the character of the line. Aside from the laser engraving machine, no computerized equipment is utilized. In fact, most of the equipment Mike has in the shop dates to the 1940s, when heavy, precise industrial equipment was still manufactured in this country. Each Mikutowski piece is certainly deserving of its “hand-made” designation! Whether it’s a small desk clock or a six-drawer jewelry chest, Mike’s passion is evident in the masterful workmanship and fine details of each piece. The signature inlay work on many of the jewelry-box lids is so delicate that only Mike himself does this part of the woodworking. He is also the one to carefully choose lumber for his pieces. One of Mike’s main goals is to allow the wood’s natural grain to shine through in the final product, and to this end no stain is used in the manufacturing process. Only a clear lacquer is applied to the pieces in order to give a beautiful luster and ensure durability. Materials for Mikutowski pieces are selected with an eye not only towards beauty and function, but also towards environmental responsibility. Since the Mikutowski line includes very small items such as clocks and desk boxes as well as very large pieces, waste materials are reduced to a minimum. Small pieces of what would otherwise be scrap material are used in detail work and smaller items, and any remaining wood is donated to area schools and elderly care service programs for art and craft education.