Connect
To Top

Meet Mike Kennedy of Kiwi Woodkraft in Gilbert

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Kennedy.

Mike, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m a Kiwi; a New Zealander. I’m a man of few words but have always found my voice in woodworking and carpentry. I obtained a trade certificate in 1999 in NZ in cabinetry and furniture production. I specialized in native, New Zealand wood species. After a short time, I decided to travel the world via work visa’s. Along the way, I met my wife, Ann, in Arizona. Three boys, one girl, and twin grandson’s later, we find ourselves, bi-continent folks.

Through my travels, I have encountered a wide range of wood species that I hope to bring to life in creative, unique designs that are handcrafted, reclaimed, and sourced local. I hope you enjoy the finished product as much as I enjoy the process of making each piece!

Specifically, I reclaim AZ hardwoods in culled orchards, green waste, trees felled in storms, old furniture needing reinvention, spent oak wine barrels, retired barns, and so forth. I seek to use what others consider no longer useful – it is a challenge to turn these items into something useful again while highlighting what nature has already created.

I use a combination of old-world techniques and contemporary methods, selecting specific species, milling the tree on-site, and then drying. This process allows me to handcraft my designs from the tree to the finished product. I do not use veneers or fillers but solid wood for longevity and beauty. Yes, it takes longer but I think it’s worth it!

Cheers! Michael Kennedy

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It took me a few years to remember my roots (pun intended) in woodworking. Although I enjoyed traveling the world and eventually settled down in Arizona, I kept thinking about the calm and creative process of woodworking. I kept running into old barns that needed reclaiming, and frankly, my wife kept asking me to make her a farm table with heaps of character that our kids could spill on, color on, and put the marks of life on.

So my wife and I decided to quit our consistent-paycheck-kind of employment in managing a company based in the agricultural industry and take a chance on creating a small woodworking shop in Gilbert. We’ve been at it since the fall of 2013 and we are finally feeling like we are gaining traction and making our mark!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kiwi Woodkraft – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I wanted to have complete creative control over my creative process so I invested in a portable sawmill. This allows me to reclaim any wood I want to work with and mill it according to what I want to highlight. For example, back in 2013, I came across a pistachio tree orchard that had been torn out of some agricultural land in Phoenix. I stopped and asked the farmer what they were doing with the wood and the intent was to burn it. Gulp.

I offered to take it off of their hands and hauled it away. After milling, it had to air dry for four years but it is my signature wood. Pistachio wood is a unique, hardwood, that is very difficult to work with but yields a jackpot of character – male and female trees, graft lines, knots, and gnarly cracks. And now I create river mirrors, cutting boards, and fine furniture from pistachio.

What sets me apart is the quality of my work. I’m a master craftsman and it took me about 4.5 years to earn that distinction. I learned technique and method in New Zealand that is reflected in the quality of my pieces. I think people appreciate the difference, especially when a consumer can currently buy a wide range of home decor pieces at relatively cheap prices and usually with a short lifespan if used regularly. What I make will last forever and is intended to be enjoyed – like my wife’s 10′ long, reclaimed barn wood farm table that I did finally make for her! (And by the way, I dismantled that old barn myself, in South Dakota, last summer.)

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’m flat out like a lizard drinking mate and want to stay that way – not too big and not too small – just make a great living doing what I love, making it with integrity and watching other people appreciate and enjoy the end product. Ultimately I want what I make to tell a story. A story about the wood through its natural character (a drought, a lighting strike, beetle damage) and a new story in how people live their lives using what I’ve created. I plan to keep pushing my creativity to new levels and I want other people to continue to appreciate local artists and how shopping local creates community.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 22506 S 174th Place, Gilbert AZ85298.
  • Website: www.kiwiwoodkraft.com
  • Phone: 480-204-4290
  • Email: mike@kiwiwoodkraft.com
  • Instagram: @kiwiwoodkraft
  • Facebook: Michael Kennedy


Image Credit:

Robert McIntosh

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in