A colorful river of epoxy resin flows between and connects two pieces of locally sourced live edge wood, soon to become a place for friends and family to gather around at dinnertime. Delaney Mahncke and his brother-in-law, Chris Bjorkman, specialize in crafting this type of table and a variety of other furniture through their business, Ashriver Woodworks.
Based in Svensen, Ashriver Woodworks uses reclaimed wood that would otherwise go to waste.
“We’re living our dream now of giving this wood a new life and making our customers happy as well,” Bjorkman said. “The stuff we make is built to last generations, that’s our goal here.”
Both Mahncke and Bjorkman began working with wood in their youth and continued to do so in their free time into adulthood. Mahncke said he started working with a friend building houses when he was just 12 years old.
About two years ago, the brothers-in-law started making furniture together out of a garage when they lived in Castle Rock, Washington. It began as a hobby, but then they found themselves creating custom pieces to sell upon request.
“It exploded to the point where I couldn’t keep up with everything people wanted,” Mahncke said. “I quit my job in retail and started building furniture solely.”
In addition to epoxy resin tables, Ashriver Woodworks also builds just about anything customers ask for, including custom cabinets, bed frames, charcuterie boards and more.
The name Ashriver was inspired by the place where the Cowlitz River meets the Toutle River. While the Cowlitz River is clear, the North Fork Toutle River still has a cloudy tinge 40 years after Mount St. Helens erupted and filled it with ash and debris.
“At Castle Rock, the Toutle River changed the color of the Cowlitz River,” Bjorkman said. “You can see the difference between the two colors until they merge.”
The two brothers-in-law said they’ve always loved the coast, so in June, they moved to a multi-home property in Svensen with their respective families and Mahncke’s parents.
“We did a major remodel on the property to fit all the families and now we’ve been out in the shop working our butts off to get Ashirver started at the beach,” Bjorkman said.
In addition to the main house and a cottage, the property includes a large shop where they produce their woodwork.
Mahncke said he’s passionate about the products they use. The plant-based epoxy resin and the natural finishing products have zero volatile chemicals, meaning they won’t give off gas inside the customer’s home.
“That’s a big deal for us. We try to make everything as environmentally friendly as possible,” Mahncke said.
He added it’s also important for Ashriver Woodworks to use reclaimed wood.
“We have a contact in Portland that does deconstruction so we get this beautiful old wood and we’re able to give it a new life,” Mahncke said. “It’s amazing.”
The City of Portland has an ordinance that says if buildings made before 1940 are going to be taken down, they need to be fully deconstructed with valuable materials salvaged for reuse.
“In the Pacific Northwest, logging is a huge industry and so much of the wood that was used in these old Portland houses were from coastal great big fir trees, and a lot of the buildings we’re able to use the wood from are from the mid-1800s,” Mahncke said.