Retired orthodontist Kent Susott says making furniture involves many of the same skills he used in his previous job.
“Making furniture, in some respects, is similar to being an orthodontist,” he says. “You cannot start moving teeth without having a treatment plan to follow. Likewise, it is not a good idea to start cutting wood without a detailed set of drawings to work with.”
Born and raised in Evansville, Kent attended Indiana University in Bloomington and earned a dental and orthodontics degree from the IU School of Dentistry in Indianapolis.
Now a retired orthodontist, several years ago he wanted to start a hobby he could enjoy once he left his practice.
“I chose woodworking because my three children needed furniture for their houses,” he says. “The design process is a very important step in making furniture that will be structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing.”
Kent uses native Indiana hardwood such as walnut and cherry, which he air dries in his shop for a year or longer.
“I also use various inlay materials to embellish my work, and as much as possible I like to use intricate details such as hand cut dovetails,” he adds.
With his application to Indiana Artisan, Kent sent a spice chest with radial inlays on the outer and inner face of the door, as well as walnut burl veneer on the front of the spice drawers inside. True to the historic roots of spice chests, the back panel was removable via a secret hinge, and, once removed, revealed a hidden drawer in the back of the piece.
Kent explores all styles of furniture making.
“There are so many different types of woodworking that it’s difficult to master all of the techniques,” he says. “I enjoy the challenge of completing difficult projects that require learning new skills.”
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