Nils Wessel of Brooklyn Butcher Blocks, considers himself a born maker. His process: catch a spark of creativity, forge a cohesive design, and then hammer out its details.
The language Nils uses was highly influenced from his summers in Vermont, where he would spend his days with his uncle and grandfather – two woodworkers and serious DIY project addicts. They introduced Nils to the basics of construction. At Bard College, where he majored in Studio Arts, Nils tested his then-rudimentary construction skills by making large-scale sculptures and architectural installations.
After college, drawn to the vibrant creative community of Brooklyn, Nils became an apprentice of Joel Bukiewicz at Cut Brooklyn. He began by making tangs – the part of the knife that eventually becomes the handle. He also developed a routing jig for Cut Brooklyn's sayas (wooden sheaths for knives).
Nils' experience with wood in Vermont and at Bard, plus Joel's influence as a craftsperson inspired him to turn his low ceilinged art studio into a low ceilinged woodshed. After spending every free hour he had hunched over experiments, things came full circle when he made his first butcher block. Nils was intrigued with the ways he was able to treat, design and manipulate the wood into something both beautiful and useful, and cutting boards were also a great fit because it gave him an entrance into the growing community of artisans. Enter Brooklyn Butcher Blocks.
Nils began attending markets and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Tasting Table, Bon Appetit, New York Magazine and has been recommended by Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods.
Even though the toys and tools have improved, in many ways, Nils is still that kid drawing and hammering, excited to keep working.