Leo Sharkey's Fine Woodworking

About Me

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I've been making fine, hand-crafted furniture for 9 years now.  I recently left the corporate world to pursue woodworking full time.  My academic training is in Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering and this background complements my interest in wood. 

I’ve trained in Vermont and Massachusetts and am now located in the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota.  The thrust of my work is to build heirloom pieces intended for function as much as form.  By using highly figured woods blended together to create an aesthetic beauty, my work offers something that cannot be obtained by commercial furniture.  The use of traditional mortise and tenon joinery, insures that the pieces are designed and built to last multiple lifetimes and be passed on to future generations.

My construction methods are a blend of old and new.  I do not shy away from power tools, but at the same time prefer to use hand tools wherever possible.  For example, when making mortise and tenon joints, I make the mortises using a 1 hp mortising machine and rough out tenons on my table saw.  The mortising machine cuts extremely accurate and precise mortises much more quickly than is possible by hand.  The table saw removes bulk material quickly, but is too rough for final finish work.  So, I cut the tenons oversize and then use a shoulder or rabbeting plane to trim the tenons for a precise fit.  This mixture of power and hand tools enables me to save time where possible but preserve the fit and finish that are only possible using hand tools.

Like my construction techniques, my finishing methods are also a blend of old and new and depend on the intended use of the piece.  Most tend to be wipe-on, or hand rubbed chemistries such as polyurethane / oil blends, oil / varnish mixtures made famous by Sam Maloof, oil only finishes such as tung or danish oil and shellac.  When choosing a finish, I balance the needs of the furniture with its intended use.  For example, coffee tables tend to be treated harshly and need a durable finish that will resist hot liquids and alcohol, so I usually use polyurethane / oil blend finish.  The poly / oil is extremely durable and will not dissolve in alcohol like shellac.  Shellac however is an excellent choice when finishing some of the oily, waxy tropical figured woods used for end and hall tables. 


Leo Sharkey Fine Woodworking 
1018 Sherwood Rd. * Shoreview, MN * 55126
Phone: (651) 402-1389