Canadian Woodworking

Mark Qualizza


Fernie, British Columbia woodworker Mark Qualizza on functional art, curves and the relationship between form and function.

Maker: Mark Qualizza
Age: 54
Business: Qualizza Fine Woodworking
Location: Fernie, British Columbia
Shop: 800 square feet 

Watch our video: Mark Qualizza

Q & A with Mark Qualizza

In order, what are the three most important items in your shop apron? 
6″ rule, regular pencil, 0.5mm mechanical pencil

Do you prefer hand tools or power tools? 
I prefer whichever is going to be the most efficient to accomplish the task at hand.

Solid wood or veneer? 
I like and use both. It’s dependent on what the function of the piece is.

Figured wood or straight grain? 
Both; the piece will dictate which is appropriate.

Inherited Vintage Stanley Sweetheart or fresh-out-of-the-box Veritas? 
Veritas; I don’t have the patience to re-condition a tool.

Flowing curves or geometric shapes? 
My greatest design pleasure is curves. The elegance of a gentle curve catches my eye and imagination almost immediately.

Mark Qualizza

Mark Qualizza

Granville Island Stool
These sophisticated and comfortable stools have an inlaid footrest and splined through tenons on the seat. The seat is curved and includes a very large chamfer on its underside to lighten the look. 

Mark Qualizza stools

Wave Table
The base is hand carved to reflect a wave and burnt using the traditional Japanese treatment called “shou sugi ban.” The “Wave Table” came alive from an afternoon of sketching waves when one of them caught Qualizza’s eye and felt like the perfect base for a table.

Mark Qualizza wave tale

Cube in Curves
According to Mark Qualizza, this project was an exercise in complex joinery. All of the work parts, short of the centre cube and shelves, are curved. “The joinery was an incredibly enjoyable challenge,” explains Qualizza. “It’s constructed with mortise and tenon joinery, which for the top cross piece was quite the challenge.”

Drawer details

Quotes from Mark Qualizza

I start usually around 7 a.m., after breakfast, and head into the shop to clean up my bench and assembly table. I usually have assorted tools on it from the previous day’s work. I lay out the process for that morning and get into it. I wrap up around 5 p.m., generally covered in sawdust, which I attempt to clean off before going into the house. My wife feels I fail at this last step regularly, though. 

The most influential furniture maker for me is Michael Fortune, in Warsaw, Ontario. I believe I have read every arti­cle he has published and used many of his methods to achieve the designs I create.

I love the relationship between form and function. A well-constructed wood joint will last for decades and furniture becomes generational, not disposable. I design pieces that will stand the impacts of life, the bustle and bounty. Something that will enhance your everyday space and, if I get it right, transform ordinary into extraordinary. 
It’s very important for me to be creative and artistic. Art that’s functional, elegant and every day is the art we tend to love the most. It’s why I love working with a cli­ent to shape everyday spaces. Functional art starts with a conversation. 

Being a woodworker is important to my sense of identity. I’m a creative person and I enjoy drawing and making things. I love taking a piece of rough lumber and turning it into something beautiful. 

On my stereo in the morning is our local CBC radio morning shows. Afternoons turn into assorted podcasts.

Mark Qualizza was profiled in June 2024

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

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