Michael Alm is a Seattle based artist and woodworker.
Always an artist (Michael began showing his work in art galleries in 2006), in 2014 he took the skills that he adopted from an early age and started Alm Fab, a design and fabrication company that specializes in custom furniture and unique creative design solutions.
In 2017 Michael took the Alm Fab brand to the next level with the launch of his YouTube channel. Passionate about sharing the skills and techniques that he as acquired in his experience, the channel focuses not only on documenting his projects but also on educating other makers.
How did you get into working with wood?
I started woodworking pretty early on. My dad had a basement shop where he built models ships, and I loved hanging out in there. The endless possibilities that shop allowed me was really powerful. I remember when my dad let me use the bandsaw for the first time. I couldn’t stop thinking about how cool it was. To this day that’s my favorite tool.
How did you develop the skill base to do the work that you do?
Like anyone else my skills have developed over a long period of time from a variety of different places. I learned to use big power tools in high school building sets for the theater department, and in college I studied sculpture which widened my knowledge of materials.
Out of college I worked for museums and art galleries. I built pedestals, sculpture mounts, frames, etc. Along side all of that I’ve always kept a studio practice, and made art pieces. I’ve been showing my work in galleries since 2006, and I usually produce work for two art shows a year.
That said, with all of the jobs I’ve had over the years and the projects I’ve been a part of, I think I’ve actually learned the most from the makers on YouTube. I started watching YouTube tutorials around 2013, and since then the knowledge I have gained has increased exponentially. I started my channel in 2017 to return the favor, and interact with more makers. It’s a really amazing community, and I love being a part of it!
What inspires your creations?
I would say that my sculptures are inspired by nature and natural history, while my furniture is inspired by mid-century and industrial design. The melting table is the first piece I’ve made that has married those two sides, and I’m really excited to try more projects like that.
What would you tell your younger self starting out on your artistic journey?
I think I would encourage my younger self to play more. By that I mean not to take things too seriously. We should all listen to our creative voice a lot more. As an adult, that voice becomes more and more difficult to hear. Keeping a playful attitude towards things can really help in a lot of aspects of life.
Do you sell your work?
Yes! I have been fortunate enough to work for myself for almost five years now. Between furniture sales, art sales, and occasional remodel work, I am able to survive. I am pretty frugal, and most of my spare income goes to building the business. I definitely wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I love working for myself.
What is your favorite Arbortech Tool and why?
While making the Melting Table, I tried out the contour sander for the first time. I absolutely love that thing! It saved me a ton of time, was super fun to use, and left a great finish. I feel like it’s the carving tool I have been waiting for.
If you were a type of wood what would you be and why?
I would say Maple. It’s unassuming at first, but incredibly versatile, and great for carving. (Tough as nails too, Hahah!)
How do you like to spend your time when you are not working with wood?
I love the outdoors. That’s why I moved to Seattle. Hiking, sailing, skiing, I love getting away from the city and the cellphone. I try and get in a week long hike in the summer, and a cabin trip in the winter to reset things.
I also love drawing. I find it’s a good escape, and helps my creative energy grow. I never leave home without a sketchbook.
Melting Maple Side Table
This piece represented a unique design opportunity for Michael. While he has a background in carving and sculpture, as well as furniture building, this represented the first chance to fuse those skills together to create a sculptural piece of furniture.
Needless to say, Michael knocked it out of the park with this melting maple side table. The use of power carving to create the flowing texture to appear as if the wood is actually melting off the table is absolutely incredible. You can watch the full build for this stunning piece of furniture here.
For more awe inspiring projects and information about Michael, follow him on: