Among the quiet beauty of a suburban neighborhood in Hazel Dell lies a blue house where in its backyard sounds of sanding, hammering, and the deep smell of different types of wood such as cherry, alder, maple, oak, and pine drift from a small wood shop.
In that shop, custom woodworks wizard Travis Marble is hard at work building a desk for his wife. Many amazing pieces of furniture have been built in this shop, such as cabinets, book cases, desks and armoires. Marble has also produced a number of outdoor items such as refinished decks and deck covers.
“I’ve always liked messing with wood,” said Marble, who transformed his passion into a small business when he opened Custom Woodworx out of his home in 2002. “My dad was a carpenter, my grandpa was a carpenter, so I guess it was kind of in my blood.”
Marble’s early interest in woodwork began in high school and continued through some college courses in Anchorage, Alaska. For the eight years that followed, he worked as a house framer before moving to Southwest Washington.
“I got tired of people covering up my work so, you know, I was always very meticulous on my jobs and what not. I like making pretty things,” explained Marble.
“I had a partnership down here [in Vancouver], and you know how sometimes partnerships go, every once in awhile. I got out of that partnership and decided that I wanted to make furniture and cabinets and do the fine crafty stuff,” he added.
Most of the projects Marble has taken on have included cabinets more than anything else, but he said he really likes to branch out of that and do more unique pieces of furniture, which he said allow him to get more creative.
For Marble, Custom Woodworx is truly a community affair. His wife helps keep the books for the business and his kids help clean the shop. He recently completed a wood altar for the Chabad of Clark County and has done some work for their preschool as well.
After enquiring if he exports his works overseas, he responded, “No, it’s all local.”
Marble said he considers himself more of a craftsman than a carpenter, so instead of trying to compete with big box stores by creating standard looking pieces, he touts his ability to customize.
“Each piece is usually individual and most pieces are not all the same at all,” he explained, adding that his motto to clients is “creations for your space.”
If a customer doesn’t know what he or she wants, Marble said he sketches an idea of what he thinks they’re looking for, and they go from there. He also noted that customized work doesn’t have to be overly complicated.
“Some people come to me and say, ‘I see this desk here but it doesn’t fit my space. Can you resize it?’ And that’s basically what I do.”