Welcome, and thanks for visiting my site. I'm Brian Laak, the founder of Laak Woodworks, and here's a little info about how I became a craftsman and the amazing people I work with.
"The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek."
-Robert Louis Stevenson
I’ve been thinking with my hands ever since I can remember. This has always been my greatest strength and it lets me thrive in an environment of unique and unexpected challenges.
When I was young I wanted a life of adventure. Thankfully, thinking with my hands has always lead me down a winding and interesting path.
Becoming a Tradesmen
I didn't go to college after high school. Instead, I went to work for a machine shop near Palo Alto, California as an apprentice. After a year, I decided to enroll at East Coast Aero Technical School for some more formal training.
Two years later I passed the FAA test and I became a licensed aircraft mechanic. My first “real job” was working on World War II era DC 3 airplanes for Provincetown / Boston Airlines.
After PBA went bankrupt, I began working as a mechanic for Long Wood Motor Cars, an independent Porsche shop in Boston.
This was my official introduction to the trades.
Growing through Adventure
Eventually, a lust for life and adventure pulled me towards the Caribbean and I moved to Coral Bay, a vibrant community on Saint John in the US Virgin Islands.
I was surrounded by artists, freethinkers, gypsies, woodworkers, boat builders, and craftsmen. This dynamic community inspired me to value independence, hard work, and creativity.
For seven years I worked in marinas repairing boats. I was working with real problem-solvers. We could not Google or YouTube a solution; we understood the fundamental nature of how things work and don’t work. We did not replace broken parts we fixed broken parts. I learned that good tools don't make a craftsman, they just make his job easier.
Ultimately, a new adventure called and I joined Medecine Sans Frontieres [Doctors without Borders] as a Logistician serving on the boarder of Rwanda, in South Sudan, and Chechnya. For three years I experienced the best and worst of humanity.
While helping others survive unimaginable situations, I learned a new set of skills and a new perspective of what constitutes a “problem.” I am proud to have been a part of the team that helped Medecine Sans Frontieres win a Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.
Opening My Shop
During these travels, I met Isabelle—my future wife and always best friend. We moved back to the United States to West Barnstable Massachusetts, on Cape Cod where we slowly and thoughtfully restored an historic church.
Two years later, in the spring of 2000 we moved to our present home in Berthoud Colorado, and soon after started Laak Woodworks.
Berthoud is our refuge. Laak Woodworks is an expression of who I am. My life is the road that got me here. It has been, and continues to be a once in a lifetime experience.
It Takes A Team
No one person can be a master of every craft, which is why I work with some of the most skilled craftsmen in the area. Together we strive to make dreams a reality. Here are some people and companies I work with regularly.
Wood Craftsman, Trim Carpenter, and Installer
Mike is originally from the East Coast and he’s a member of the next generation of wood craftsmen. He helps keep the shop running smoothly, is one of my primary installers and an avid outdoorsman.
Professional Quality Wood Finishes
Chad Parker is King. He complies to all the EPA and OSHA rules for finishing, which is no small feat. He has a top quality fire suppression system, filters, air dryers and spray guns. Chad's work is impeccable and and his shop is conveniently located right down the street from me.
Precision High Quality Metal Machining
Vince at Horizon Machining is so good that his work is always in demand despite the fact that he has never advertised, doesn't have a website and only has a land line. If you want Vince, you go to his shop.
I place a high value on my relationship with Austin Hardwoods. They are always there for me with great quality native and exotic hardwoods, sheet goods and expert knowledge.
St. Vrain Dovetail
High Quality Draw Boxes
There's a reason why most cabinet shops in the Front Range use St. Vrain Dovetail. They are a family owned business and I can always depend on their quality, lead-time and cost.
Custom Glass Works
Abbot Glass is another reliable family run business that makes my life easier. Without question, their knowledge and expertise regarding glass is second to none.
Designer, Project Manager, & Small Business Marketing
Jess moved to Colorado after graduating from Clemson University with a degree in Architecture. Her talent with design and technology are a great asset for Laak Woodworks.
Out of the Shop
I celebrate life every day through my work. If a wingnut was alive it would be my spirit animal - screwy and wacky but still practical.
I have several passions that keep me busy when I'm out of the shop, but I always carry this spirit with me. Click here to see what I get up to when I'm not making sawdust.