Special to The Morning Star
From playing in grandpa’s workshop, to creating unique, handcrafted, designer furniture pieces, the MacDonald brothers have a passion for woodworking that is the legacy of generations.
Born and raised in Vernon, Gordon and Brodie MacDonald have been working with wood and metal since they were old enough to use power tools.
“Our dad and grandfathers got us into it,” said Gordon. “They are Jacks of all trades.”
The brothers’ grandparents live in Vernon, and provided workshops close by for their grandsons to work on their craft.
The boys also experienced exposure to woodworking from their father.
“Our dad is, and was, the type of man that never paid people to do work that he could complete himself – a true Scotsman taking after his father, Donald MacDonald,” said Gordon. “He’s a true role model, (a) family first kind of dad.”
Both the brothers’ grandfathers and father would show and let them help with the projects that they were working on. Countless hours were spent in all three of their shops. Each man brought forth interest and taught the boys how to use their hands in more than one way.
Grandpa Don founded and ran the Vernon Boxing Club for more than 50 years.
“Our mother was as instrumental in always supporting our passions and aspirations, never complaining as we carried sawdust and shop dirt into the East Hill family home over the years, and still do as we come in for a snack and coffee,” said Gordon.
In 2012, the MacDonald brothers officially opened their own business, IronElk Woodworks.
Currently situated at their father’s workshop, they create furniture with a signature that is becoming well known in Vernon home décor circles.
“Our design style is generally large and powerful, sort of like an elk, and the iron part speaks for itself,” said Gordon.
Brodie’s natural design style is a mix of rustic, timber, iron-focused work – heavy and substantial, while Gordon’s designs are more industrially sleek.
“When we combine, the possibilities are endless,” said Gordon, who with Brodie is hands on working with the wood components, while Brodie specializes in welding and metalwork.
“We don’t have the same tastes in design. This brings out a lot of arguments and cool designs. Metal compliments wood very nicely. It’s as simple as that,” said Gordon.
Their favourite items to build are anything new and exciting, with quality in mind.
“We believe people are starting to appreciate heirloom furniture, rather than the disposable type – something that can be handed down through generations,” said Gordon.
IronElk Woodworks uses a lot of fir and hemlock.
“We really love when we can use a live-edge hardwood slab. We have a couple of local mills that we deal with and also do some chainsaw milling ourselves,” said Gordon.
IronElk Woodworks does a lot of custom work, and at the moment is also designing and creating pieces for the forthcoming 37th annual Okanagan Artisans Guild Show & Sale at the Vernon Lodge.
“There will be coffee tables, end tables and other pieces of furniture,” said Gordon. “We are also playing with other mediums such as rock and concrete. There will be lots to see.”
The Okanagan Artisans Guild 37th Annual Show & Sale takes place Nov. 25 and 26 at the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre, 3914 32nd St. Hours are Friday, noon to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission and coat check are free of charge.