Deoria Made is Now Kyle D'Auria

Have you heard the news? What was once called Deoria Made is now simply Kyle D'Auria. Confused? Don't be! It's always been me (Kyle!) here behind the scenes at Deoria Made anyways, and the name change is just one of several steps I've taken in the past year to ensure I'm representing myself in my art and woodworking. 

For years I was honing Deoria Made very specifically into a handmade wooden kitchen goods company, mostly making heirloom quality butcher blocks and cutting boards. That narrow focus began to be limiting. From a business perspective I realized I ought to expand the business to include other skills I have, like furniture making for example, and from an artistic perspective I realized I have a lot more to express through my woodworking than just items of utility. As such I've expanded my scope, and have made room for my business to include all those things moving forward - all of me, Kyle, art, craft and everything in between. 


Design Milk, and Renegade Craft Fair have teamed up to spotlight an emerging designer for this weekend's Renegade LA fair, and Deoria Made was picked!

We'll publish an account of the event afterwards, but first click the button-link below to read an interview with Deoria Made's Kyle D'Auria, by Design Milk's founder Jaime Derringer.

Evolution of The Northwest Block

The Northwest End-Grain Butcher Block is Deoria Made's longest standing design, and its staying power symbolizes what we're all about: enduring designs; enduring goods.  It came about as an amalgamation of many of our earliest cutting board designs. Over the years we've played with and changed characteristics such as the wood sourced, aesthetic proportions, and processes, but its foundation has always stayed the same. Today we dig into the archives and show some of those iterations that have led to what The Northwest Block is today.

custom end grain butcher block handmade in portland oregon by kyle dauria maple walnut

A custom commission, this end-grain butcher block was the first design that sewed the seeds of what has become The Northwest Block.

the original northwest block end grain butcher block cutting board

After that first commission was the vision for this first stock offering. For this version walnut, maple, and oak were used, all sourced from the east coast of the United States. 

the northwest end grain butcher block cutting board local pacific northwest hardwoods

Next, the switch to all local materials sourced here in the Pacific Northwest! Salvaged claro walnut (sometimes english when available), FSC certified big-leaf maple, and Oregon white oak. This particular batch of walnut was quite expressive and wholly unique! 

northwest end grain butcher block cutting board with repairing dots

Here local materials are still used, but you can see the variance from tree to tree. For example the maple in this version is much redder than the last. Also, "repairing dots" were employed.  At the time much of our sourced walnut resulted in many natural imperfections, and in an effort to salvage the material in the spirit of wabi-sabieach was bored out, and filled with cylindrical wooden inlay. 

custom sized end grain butcher block cutting board with juice groove

A custom extra-large sized Northwest Block with juice groove upon request. Pictured here prior to pre-conditioning.

best kitchen cutting board butcher blocks handmade in portland oregon

And that leads us to where we are today. We're still using local Pacific Northwest claro walnut and Oregon white oak, but have made the switch back to east coast hard maple for its light color and hardness. Repairing dots have been replaced with an entirely new processing of our walnut, resulting in imperfection-free surface, where from afar the walnut looks quite abstract, but up close you can see hundreds of chevron and zig-zag patterns. 

wood wooden end grain butcher block handmade pacific northwest
portland oregon america usa american made end grain butcher block cutting board

Details : Know Your Wood

We make all of our cutting boards from walnut, maple, or oak.

It goes without saying that all three make excellent cutting boards; they're all hard-hardwoods, safe for food use, and quite durable.

But let's take a deeper dive and learn some less commonly known information about this holy trinity of woods . . .

Claro Walnut

Claro walnut is every Portland woodworker's mascot. Though non-native, claro walnut specifically grows here in the Pacific Northwest especially, meaning we're able to source it directly from local sawyers. Rather than growing and cultivating it, these sawyers seek out fallen or damaged trees, thus the name salvaged wood. 

Scientific Name: Juglans hindsii

Janka Rating (measures the force required to imbed half the diameter of a 11.28mm steel ball): 1,130 pound-feet

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown, with hues ranging from purple to red - sapwood is nearly white. 

Fun Fact: Claro walnut is planted as rootstock for walnut orchards. The more proficient fruiting english walnut is later graphed on. It's not uncommon to find lumber that displays this unity. 

(L) The every varying appearance of claro walnut. (R) A consistently dark chocolate brown claro walnut end-grain butcher block.

(L) The every varying appearance of claro walnut. (R) A consistently dark chocolate brown claro walnut end-grain butcher block.

White Oak

White oak is strong, stubborn, and downright American. That's exactly why we like it.

Scientific Name: Quercus garryana

Janka Rating: 1,640 lbf

Appearance: Consistent amber-gold with quite a visual texture, even when finely sanded.

Fun Fact: Nick Offerman, aka Ron Swanson of  Parks and Recreation fame, and founder of Offerman woodshops was once quoted saying American Oak is his favorite wood. 

white oak end grain butcher block cutting board wood wooden portland oregon handmade

Hard Maple

Hard maple, aka sugar maple is, yup, you guessed it, where your coveted maple syrup comes from. It grows mostly in the Northeastern United States. We do have a local variety of maple here in the Pacific Northwest, a particularly beautiful variety called big-leaf maple. We use it when the softer variety is needed for a project, but usually (not always) hard maple makes for a better cutting board.

Scientific Name: Acer saccharum

Janka Rating: 1,450 lbf

Appearance: Consistent eggshell color

Fun Fact: Hard maple is the state tree of four states, New York, West Virginia, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

hard maple wood butcher block cutting board portland oregon handmade

Custom Spotlight : The Wildwood Block & Bartop

Today we dig into the archives and take a look at a pair of custom projects we did for Wildwood Bespoke in 2015, and its sister company Wildwood & Company a year later in 2016.

photo courtesy of Wildwood & Company

photo courtesy of Wildwood & Company

In 2015, Joseph Muller, proprietor of Wildwood Bespoke, commissioned a 15 foot long set of countertops for the wet-bar of his downtown Portland, Oregon tailoring studio and showroom.

photo courtesy of Wildwood & Company

photo courtesy of Wildwood & Company

wildwood bespoke & company custom wetbar countertop portland oregon

Offering a client a scotch while having his or her measurements taken is all part of the experience of creating bespoke suits, shirts, and sweaters for his clients. Custom to the showroom’s style, an end-grain butcher block centerpiece in walnut and maple is accompanied on either side by two curly maple tops.

photo by Masahiro Shimazaki, courtesy of Wildwood & Company

photo by Masahiro Shimazaki, courtesy of Wildwood & Company

Later in 2016, an additional commission, the “Wildwood Block” cutting board was also developed to mirror the proportions and design of the original countertop, sold exclusively through Wildwood & Company, the boutique store that accompanies his tailoring business.

the wildwood block end-grain butcher block cutting board process woodworking
photo courtesy of Wildwood & Company

photo courtesy of Wildwood & Company

Resourcefulness | The Whole Tree

Resourceful chefs make a habit of wasting as little as possible. Frying bacon leaves a lot of grease behind, which can be used to cook the rest of a breakfast hash, saving any butter or other type of fat that would otherwise have to be reached for. A pastry chef uses fresh blueberries atop a tart, but once they’ve lost their healthy look they don’t have to be discarded, and rather can be baked into a dish where their ripeness can be appreciated.

At Deoria Made we have the same mentality. For example, offcuts from our various projects are saved, cut down to size, and turned into the feet for our Blocks; Other small sections of wood that are too small to include in a piece of furniture or larger Block cutting board are saved and then turned into small cheeseboards.

Bug damage was exposed during the milling process of this cheeseboard, which was easily amended with a strip of walnut.

Bug damage was exposed during the milling process of this cheeseboard, which was easily amended with a strip of walnut.

Scrap material used as feet for our Blocks.

Scrap material used as feet for our Blocks.

We also don’t shy away from imperfections. Most of our work is produced in batches, often leaving a board here or there that is not quite the same as the rest. We constantly find new and creative ways to resurrect these imperfections. For example, knots are filled with plugs, making for an interesting dotted pattern; A cheeseboard that came out of the milling process too narrow for stock gets a piece of contrasting wood added to it, and it becomes a new piece. These pieces become our One-of-a-Kind models, which are inspired by the idea that imperfections are perfect.

Whether it’s cooking, woodworking, or any other facet of life, being resourceful is not only personally beneficial in that you consume less or perhaps pay less, but also socially and environmentally responsible in that you decrease your impact on the planet. Using a heaping cup of creativity, a tablespoon of critical thought, and a pinch of patience, most materials can be saved from the trash bin and can be turned into beautiful things you’d initially never imagined. Try it, you’ll surprise yourself!

In what ways are you resourceful? 

Cutting Boards | Why Wood?

Growing up, my Mother’s cutting board was the centerpiece of the kitchen. It was big, thick, and took up some serious kitchen real estate! It stood proud, almost like a piece of furniture, and was the surface that she used for all food preparation. She’s had other small boards, like plastic for mincing garlic, slate for serving cheese and crackers, and a few others, but for the most part they just gathered dust beneath the countertop.

The way my Mother uses her cutting board follows a long tradition of people before us using wooden cutting boards– from a butcher cleaving meat day in and day out on a two foot thick butcher’s block, to a grandmother in Italy preparing tortellini for her grandchildren, people have been cooking on wood forever. And for good reason; wood is an ideal cutting surface to retain a knife’s edge, it’s antibacterial, it can be conditioned and resurfaced, and in the case of an end-grain cutting board it “self-heals” marks left behind by knives.

Comparably, glass, slate, or other stone surfaced cutting boards are simply too hard of a cutting surface and will dull knife edges quickly. However, these are generally not the type of cutting boards people shop for, opting instead to look between either plastic or wood. Let’s look a little deeper into the benefits of wood over plastic…

"Scarring" on a plastic cutting board

"Scarring" on a plastic cutting board

A conditioned, well cared for Deoria Made block in the wild. My Mother's in fact.

A conditioned, well cared for Deoria Made block in the wild. My Mother's in fact.

It is commonly known that plastic can be run through the dishwasher (wood cannot), leading most to believe that it is a more sanitary cutting surface. Wrong! Less commonly known is that wood is naturally antibacterial. A study by UC-Davis researched the difference between plastic and wood, specifically measuring how long bacteria persists on either surface once “scarred.” Scarred surfaces are areas where cleaving, chopping, or serrating has created a marred surface. Interestingly, they found that bacteria would die on or under scarred wood surfaces. However bacteria on or under scarred plastic surfaces would persist. This means that no amount of scrubbing, sanitizing, or dish washing is enough to rid plastic of deep infections such as bacteria. The impetus for UC-Davis’s research was that The US Department of Agriculture had no scientific evidence to support their claim that plastic is more sanitary than wood. But, alas, we have scientific proof! So the next time someone tells you plastic is more sanitary than wood, call their BS! High five skeptics, we were right all along: Wood is king!

Besides the cleanliness, wood is an ideal hardness to cut on. An ideal harness is something like the local Pacific Northwest claro walnut, big leaf maple, or oak we use, where it’s hard enough to resists knife marks, but soft enough to retain your knife’s edge. Some woods, like ironwood, are just too hard for that. Regardless, scarred wood is re-surfaceable. Scarring can be managed and kept to a minimum by regular wet-sanding, or all together eliminated by complete resurfacing – plastic cannot.

Additionally, the end grain of wood, which features as the surface of all of our Deoria Made Blocks, actually heals itself. It is “self-healing.” Imagine for a moment a paint brush pointing up, with the bristles held up vertical. Then take a knife and cut down into the bristles. When you pull your knife out, those bristles spring back together. They self-heal so to speak. That is how the end grain of wood is oriented, and that is something plastic simply does not do. Thanks to “The Wood Whisperer” for that great paint brush analogy by the way.

Okay, but what about conditioning. Certainly a convenient benefit to plastic is that you don’t have to treat it. Well, to that I say, conditioning is much easier than you think, and it’s like anything, like, say a pair of leather boots – the more you condition them, the better they’ll be and the longer they’ll last. A properly conditioned and cared for wooden cutting board can last a lifetime, whereas a plastic board you simply throw into the landfill when it’s done. A simple coating of mineral oil, and a top coat of the Deoria Made Cure-All is all you need once in a while to keep yours in tip top shape. Conditioning it this way actually helps it resist smells, flavors, and colors of the food your chopping, so it’s all around a good thing.

To conclude, wooden cutting boards are the best! My Mother had it right, and so did your Mother’s Mother’s Mother’s Mother (I could go further but won’t). It’s not only been tested that wood is a more sanitary surface than plastic, but it’s also more durable, ideal for your knife’s sharp edge, and also just straight up awesome. I mean, it grew from a tree, a lumber mill salvaged that tree (did I mention we use salvaged wood at Deoria Made), and now it’s sitting atop your countertop looking beautiful. What more could you want?

References: If you’d like to read more about UC –Davis’s research, publications include “Cutting boards of plastic and wood contaminated experimentally with bacteria,” “Decontamination of plastic and wooden cutting boards for kitchen use,” and “Cutting Boards up Close,” by Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D. 

Keep it Local | Pacific Northwest Hardwoods

“Farm-to-table” is an expression we hear a lot these days, describing food that is delivered to you with few, if any, middle men involved in the process. More than an expression though, farm-to-table is a movement that encourages us to know our farmers in order to know where our food comes from. The concept is that if we know who grew our food, we can also determine how it was grown, cultivated, and delivered. That knowledge allows us to decide whether the ethics of the farmer align with ours.  Farm-to-table is not just some abused pop-culture term; instead it is at the forefront of a revolution in which people care about all aspects of what they consume.

Farm-to-table advocates are conscious. They’re wondering where the produce on their dish came from, whether or not it was treated with chemicals, or even what type of irrigation was used to grow it. They care not only about the taste of the food, but also what implications its production has on the environment, or perhaps workers' conditions. It’s all about care. Caring about what we support in this chaotic consumer world, and what we choose not to support. They’re navigating the dense, dark, and confusing world of consumerism that we all partake in. And that’s courageous.

Out of respect for farm-to-table, I’ve done my best to apply its principles to how I operate Deoria Made. When I began woodworking, I didn’t concern myself much with where my lumber originated, how it was cultivated, or what my purchase supported - I didn't know any better. But when I shopped at a lumber store which seemed to know very little about the life of the lumber they stock, I felt as though I was shopping at a big box store like Wal-Mart. The whole experience was lacking and left me feeling hollow as a result. As it turns out, many types of lumber internationally and even domestically degrade the forests from which they come, and sometimes even degrade the local economies they come from. Not to mention, these woods have to travel across the country, or perhaps even across the world to end up in the workshop. There’s nothing about that journey that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Learning this, I began looking into local lumber, and haven’t looked back since. “Local” was the first requirement I implemented into my new way of thinking, because the fewer resources it takes to get to my workshop, the better for the environment. In the same way that it doesn’t make sense to have strawberries shipped from another country when excellent strawberries are grown locally on Mt. Hood just outside of Portland, it didn’t make sense to have lumber shipped thousands of miles when we have great, and even sometimes superior lumber in our Portland backyard. The further I explored, the more I found that some lumber is “salvaged” rather than cultivated. That is to say that rather than growing trees for the sake of cultivating lumber, salvaged material is “saved” from the wood chipper. This just kept getting more awesome, and aligning more and more with my ethical ideals. I also found that if a particular species of lumber wasn’t salvaged, that it could be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which “ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.” After learning about all these things, woodworking became much more interesting to me, realizing that by woodworking I could be doing much more than just making nice pieces, but I could also be supporting good causes such as the local economy and the environment.

The company truck, affectionately called Bruiser, loaded up with large slabs of claro walnut from Goby.

The company truck, affectionately called Bruiser, loaded up with large slabs of claro walnut from Goby.

A custom Deoria Made big-leaf-maple block with claro walnut dots. BLM can often have much more character than other maples, and this batch was no exception.

A custom Deoria Made big-leaf-maple block with claro walnut dots. BLM can often have much more character than other maples, and this batch was no exception.

Goby Walnut was one of the first businesses I aligned myself with in this new chapter of Deoria Made, and they continue to be one of my favorite places to buy lumber in Portland. They have two of their own sawmills, five dehumidification kilns, and four vacuum kilns to dry their lumber. Needless to say, they are a major institution in the Pacific Northwest. While they specialize in claro walnut, they also stock big leaf maple, tan oak, madrone, ash, myrtle, and a score of other hardwoods, 90% of which comes from our home, Oregon. The other 10% comes as far east as Idaho, and as far south as Sacramento. They save so many trees from the wood chipper that they even wholesale to other lumber stores in the PNW. If you haven’t gone, go! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s walnut-Mecca.

For me, it’s an amazing treat to learn these details about the wood I use for Deoria Made. I love hearing a story about where a particular batch came from; that perhaps a home owner’s walnut tree in their back yard was beginning to die as a result of twig beetle damage, and that Goby came to the rescue, saving it from the wood chipper. This stuff matters. These details matter. The business is also run by a father son duo, and the knowledge of anyone working there is just amazing… but that’s just icing on the cake.

At this point, Deoria Made items are almost exclusively made with local materials. It's a great feeling knowing that it’s salved, or FSC certified, and I like heading into the store to hear intimate stories about where the slab of wood I’m about to buy came from. When I do use non-local materials, its either because a customer requested it, or because I came upon some second-hand. But if you’ve ever seen or worked with local claro walnut, or any of the other luscious hardwoods we have here in the Willamatte Valley, you’ll know they’re to die for. And why not use them? They’re sitting right here in our backyard, just waiting for the wood chipper, or perhaps a woodworker to honor its beauty, and make something useful out of it. That's how we do it at Deoria Made, and we hope others follow suit.