Rene’ “Ray” Schwanenberger
I am a furniture maker, designer and now teacher located in Northern Kentucky! I was surprised to hear there are many people who do not know they can have furniture built to meet their specific needs. While building commissioned pieces and teaching on a limited basis, I enjoy investigating new designs of more traditional pieces.
I was born and raised in Wheeling, WV. I was first exposed to woodworking in the Scouts. Subsequent education was obtained in junior high school Industrial Arts classes. As a teenager I worked on carpentry crews during the summer. After leaving college, I served a four year apprenticeship as a sheet metal worker working in the trades for the next fifteen years.
In 1989 I switched gears and became an air traffic controller, relocating my family to Kentucky. After almost two and a half decades I retired from the FAA in 2012. While working as an air traffic controller my friend Jesse Moton re-ignited my passion for woodworking. Jesse was doing very nice work in a large chicken coupe he converted into his shop. While on vacation in Maine, Carol and I happened upon a Windsor chair shop. The shop was housed in an 18th century barn and the house was used as a showroom. It was there, in that shop, that I realized I wanted to add chairs, Windsor chairs specifically, to my portfolio.
My chairmaking education began at the Windsor Institute. I continued my chairmaking education with Curtis Buchanan while learning specific aspects of chairmaking from Greg Pennington, Peter Galbert and Don Weber. Along the way I have had the extreme good fortune to be able to enhance my education of furniture making from some of most talented furniture makers of our time. Wether in a class, clinic or most likely a conversation, I am truly grateful for their friendship, tutalige and sharing nature. Along with the aforementioned makers, I would not be where I am today without the friendship of Megan Fitzpatrick, Brendan Gaffney and most assuredly Christopher Schwarz. Chris has afforded me the opportunity to teach chairmaking at the Lost Art Press storefront, fulfilling one of my dreams.
Photos by Ray Schwanenberger