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John Fry was born in San Diego in 1947.  Raised in a middle class family with a father who loved to tinker and fix things in his workshop, John was particularly drawn to woodworking. When his father recognized John’s interest, he encouraged his son and helped him with various projects.

After building two soap-box derby cars, a pigeon coop, and an electric guitar from scratch, John knew his way around the tools.  At a relatively young age he had also developed a craftsman’s attention to detail and sense of design.

When John reached adolescence, he abandoned woodworking for girls and hot rods.  He finally settled down with author Joan Fry and they have enjoyed a long and happy marriage.  After three successful careers (which include designing a 36-stall show horse barn and patenting a sports fishing simulator he had designed and built with a friend), John discovered he had time for a hobby again.  He returned to one of his earliest projects, model railroading.  As a kid, John had “helped” his father build a 27 X 30 foot HO gauge model railroad layout.  This time John turned his attention to large scale garden railroading and built, from scratch, highly detailed 1:20.3 scale freight cars, historically-correct replicas of a narrow-gauge rail line used during the 1890s to run to and from logging towns in the Sierra Nevada.  He also built, to scale, a train station, hotel, and other buildings. 

In the mid 1990s, the Frys purchased property in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.  When their new home was complete, Joan handed John a “honey do” list of projects:  build a shelter for her horse and goat, and design and build a hay shed, tack room, and an arena.  Also on her list were a garden shed, green house, etc., etc.  John needed to set up a real workshop and buy more tools because he was obviously getting back into woodworking in a big way.

After finishing the outbuildings, John started projects designed to go inside the house.  He built cabinets in the laundry room that matched the kitchen cabinetry, dressers, tables, and cedar chests.  Gaining knowledge and confidence with each project, John built an entertainment center for his mother and a delightful little whale-tail bookcase for his wife.  As he continued to turn out increasingly complex furniture pieces for family and friends, his craftsmanship, attention to detail, and sense of design became even more evident.  A self-taught furniture maker, John read about and studied the work of the old-time masters, in particular their art pieces, which he admires above all else.

Soon his work caught the eye of a prominent interior designer in the Los Angeles area, who approached him to ask if he’d be interested in making a custom headboard for one of her clients.  John said yes.  That humble little project was the beginning of an alliance that has benefited everyone involved.  The pair has designed, built, and sold many custom pieces to clients from San Francisco to Tucson, and of course all over Los Angeles. 

Admirers of John’s work have noted that his furniture-building is slowly moving away from the strictly utilitarian towards “art pieces” like the beautifully inlaid Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired cedar chest, and the intricately-veneered door panels of the armoire, one of his most recent projects.   

John and Joan live, play, and create on their 20 acres in Acton, California.

And the work continues…





Chisel And Bit Custom Crafted Furniture

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