Winter is so cold! I'm staying warm by keeping moving in the shop. Lead time prior to ship is about one week.
Winter is so cold! I'm staying warm by keeping moving in the shop. Lead time prior to ship is about one week.
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Isaac sitting

Isaac Hurst

Modern Ethic LLC is Modern Danish style plywood furniture made by Isaac Hurst, working out of a shop in the county outside of Bellingham, WA.

My story:
Just out of college I made my first furniture piece, it was a garage sale coffee table which I cut in two and then re-glued at a new angle.  I was proud of it then, even if it wasn’t very functional.  I found other used cabinets and objects that I could refinish as well.  During the time I was working as a graphic designer for a large national company and needed the outlet that furniture provided as a way to use my physical energy.  I made a bunch of pieces out of upcycled items that were interesting and different but nothing of very high quality.

Next I took a job doing CNC programming for an even bigger global aerospace company.  Through doing this I began to understand the power of a reliable programmable tool like a CNC in a manufacturing environment.  I moved from programming to engineering and spent five years designing airline furniture from a CAD workstation.  Part of the design process was walking downstairs and talking to the people building the pieces I had designed.  Having the feedback loop was invaluable toward training me to design in a way that made things buildable. 

I knew I needed to get out of the big company.  Since leaving college I had spent the last 11 years working in a cubicle and I wanted a shot working for a small company, a place where my contributions would be felt more directly.  I found an architecture company which specialized in northwest modern eco-friendly design.  It seemed like a good fit, and it was.  I enjoyed three years working for them doing CAD modeling and drafting for custom homes.  I enjoyed the work but I was always drawing furniture on my spare time. I began to build Modern Ethic on the side during the evening and weekends. 

CNC in workThe biggest hurdle was the expensive tool I needed, a CNC machine.  They are 15-50K new and at the time I really wasn’t aware of the used options that might be available.  I began to read forums online about building one.  After reviewing other people’s designs I began to feel that it was something I could do. 

It took about 6 months of work to get a rough functioning machine entirely of my own design. Building a maple cut chair I ordered the parts from all over the world. Most of the steel I got locally and welded myself. The final challenge was designing and wiring the computer box and spindle control. 

With the machine working I began designing my first product, my Maple Cut Chair.  The prototypes were for my house, and when the design was mature enough I began to offer it to others. The company has grown from that point and now I make a variety of interior items.

My personality:

I am an enthusiast for doing.  I want to make it, I want to build it, I want a say in how everything looks and is.  My first inclination is to design a tool or machine before buying one. I have made nearly every piece of furniture that I own.  I love mental thought challenges and solving hard design problems. 
I am a slow thinker.  I don't like to be rushed or play speed games.  I try to make a cup of coffee last as long as possible.  I like hard problems and having enough time to consider all the possible solutions.

Modern Ethic LLC

I did my first year as a sole proprietorship but recently I’ve incorporated Modern Ethic into an LLC as it has become my full time job.  I work alone in my shop and build everything you see offered. I also offer my work on the Etsy marketplace here. 


I make my products from plywood made here in the Northwest.   I finish everything with the lowest VOC finishes I can source. I try to source external parts like inserts and screws and dowels from American companies who manufacture their products here.  I ship in all paper based packaging to reduce the use of plastics and foam.
You can read more details here.

Enjoying making

I like being involved in the process.  Making and doing everything. I take pride in the work that I do and the products that I make. I don't ship something unless I'm happy with it.  I test everything on myself and when it's cool enough I make it available to you.  Check out what I'm making now in the shop. 

Short Documentary
My friend Keith came out to my shop and shot a short film where I spend some time sharing about what led me to building furniture and about the collection of beliefs I have about ethical woodworking. This is the full version, the short two minute recap is on my front page.