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Location:
Zionsville
Medium:
Fine wood furniture
Availability:
FEATURED WORK
Kent Susott

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 said.

Sentences like “Making furniture in some respects is similar to being an orthodontist” are ones you thought you would never hear. Only an orthodontist would make that comparison, and Kent Susott makes it completely clear. “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.”

Kent was born and raised in Evansville. He attended Indiana University at Bloomington and then went on to earn 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 said. And going back to that furniture/orthodontia comparison, Kent says, “The design process is a very important step in making furniture that will be both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Beginning with a detailed set of drawings is important to the outcome.”

And while there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of winning smiles out there thanks to his treatment plans, Kent’s outcomes in wood are stunning. The furniture maker said, “I have learned a great amount about the design process from classes at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking and making reproductions of Federal Period furniture. I like to draw on this experience when designing furniture for clients.”

Kent uses native Indiana hardwood. “I like to use walnut and cherry that is air dried in my shop for one or more years,” he says. He has been at the craft for nearly 15 years, and he says for the last 10 he has worked with veneer to make radial matched patterns and marquetry projects. “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.”

With his application to Indiana Artisan, Kent sent a spice chest that had radial inlays on both 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 – a place to hide small valuables no one but the owner would find.

Kent enjoys making reproductions from the Federal and Greene and Greene architectural periods, and he is designing original furniture that combines some of these traditional characteristics with more modern designs. “I work with several interior designers,” he says, “and I have made several pieces of furniture in the Federal Style and numerous in a more modern style.”

Kent does not limit furniture making to a single style. He says, “My plans are to incorporate more inlay patterns into the Greene and Greene style to create my own unique style. There are so many different types of woodworking that it’s difficult to master all of the techniques. I enjoy the challenge of completing difficult projects that require learning new skills.”

The Evansville native says he’s happy to be recognized by the State as an Indiana Artisan because it justifies the many hours and expense necessary to master his woodworking skills. Ever the planner, he said, “I applied to Indiana Artisan because I wanted to network with other woodworkers and artists to improve my skills.”