Woodworker is a master of design and craftsmanship
Last updated 5/17/2022 at Noon
Sisters resident Dale Holub is an esteemed master woodworker. His creations are in homes and buildings around the globe, with collectors from Kuwait to Canada, the Hawaiian Islands, Japan, and throughout the U.S. Holub describes his work as contemporary Craftsman style.
Signature appointments include handles and pulls in solid ebony, rosewood, birds-eye maple, and inlay detailing only he makes. Holub’s creative side is fed by design challenges and multifaceted projects that include design, engineering, dimensions, drawings, and making sure his clients are happy.
During his 40-year career, Holub has had many prized clients. One of the most famous was Clare Booth Luce, an American writer, politician, and U.S. ambassador.
“Early in my career, I was asked to do a show in Honolulu,” he recalled. “I floated five or six pieces of furniture over at a time, in big crates. She saw my work in a gallery and invited me to her house. She commissioned an entire suite of furniture for her guest quarters; bedroom tables and nightstands, a game table, a chair, and a desk.”
Starting in the 1970s, Dale and his wife, Elaine, lived in San Francisco. Dale commuted to Marin County, where his shop was located. As his business flourished, Holub did more work on the technical side, including design, planning, detailing, drawing out kitchens and woodworking installations, and architectural-level drawings with a computer-aided-design-and-drafting system (CADD).
As his business evolved over the years he was as much a designer as a builder.
“People invited me into empty spaces and asked me what to do with them. I don’t want to take on that kind of scope of work right now; I’d rather take on individual furniture commissions. That’s what I love to do. Desks, tables, cabinets, things like that,” he said.
The Holubs moved to Sisters in 2011. They came north with their two dogs and a desire to simplify their lives. The couple began their search in Bend, but didn’t find anything that appealed to them. When they walked through the doors of a house in Sage Meadow, they knew they were home. The property once belonged to the Wester family and included many designs and pieces made by Jeff Wester. Holub recognized a fellow craftsman’s work, and felt instantly comfortable and inspired there.
“We found the perfect house and an ideal balance with our home life and my work,” said Holub.
After retiring, and finally relieved of the burden of running a business, Holub set up shop in the barn that previously was home to four horses. Once Holub got the shop up and running he could feel a desire to build take hold.
“Elaine and I set up the shop, which was fun,” he said. “I never knew I would want to take on work again.”
With a lifetime’s inventory of fine hardwoods, all his old tools and some new ones, and spaces to fill in their house, for a few years he built pieces solely for their home. Taking a break from woodworking as a business revitalized his love for the craft.
Slowing down doesn’t mean Holub is ready to put on the brakes. He’s an avid golfer and has enjoyed the sport for years. When he’s not golfing, spending time with his wife and pups, or watching the occasional golf tournament, he enjoys taking on new projects.
“Going back to what I was doing before the business got so big is what’s satisfying to me now,” he said. “I loved my business, working on beautiful homes and getting paid well for it. But eventually, it became a burden with lots of balls in the air and the necessity for the business to support several other people besides myself.”
After finishing many new pieces for their home, Holub began creating custom woodwork for new clients.
“It’s been refreshing getting my hands back on the work after directing employees for so many years,” he said. “I’ve become inspired to get back to furniture making, which characterized most of my early years in the business. It gives me the best opportunity to showcase my skills as a woodworker and designer.”
Dale still does large-format work and has been hired by shops locally to do detailing for construction and design drawings. “I’m most fulfilled when I have a project to work on at my shop,” said Holub.
Now with a one-man shop, if he has a job where he needs a second pair of hands, he employs his neighbor to help with installation.
“I’m still good with my hands and have the right equipment to turn out what I need. I’ve had some great commissions locally,” said Holub. “I did a kitchen island for a Portland client, and an art display case for a Sisters client.”
Not being much of a self-promoter, Holub has found that referrals from past clients and time on the golf course often create connections for new work.
“Golf has been a great vehicle to meet people and cultivate clients. It’s something I love to do. It’s much easier to talk about what I do while I’m playing golf with new friends,” he said, laughing.
Holub is impressed with the woodworking classes available at Sisters High School, and says they’re a good place to start for people interested in woodworking.
“I hope there will be a return to industrial arts education and trade schools, where people can learn something useful that gives them a way to provide a service and product to people while supporting themselves,” he said. “If you can get that start in school, where it’s basically free, and you’re not under pressure to earn a living while you’re doing it, that’s a great place to start. If something inspires you, I think it comes pretty naturally; nobody had to kick me in the pants to get me inspired to work hard when I was starting out. I loved the work and couldn’t do enough of it.”
For more information, contact Holub at 541-719-0109.