“There is nothing more satisfying than starting with an idea, building it with your hands, and then sitting back into it once it’s finished,” said Luke Leischner, owner of Oak Hollow Custom Woodworks in Rapid City.
Leischner’s interest in woodworking began when he was 14. He spent summers creating and working hard on his skills before his hobby hit the back burner while he was in college.
“I picked it back up after graduation, realizing people appreciated what I was building them and I could potentially make a living off doing what I loved,” said Leischner.
In 2016, he Googled “how to start an LLC,” and Oak Hollow Custom Woodworks was born. Now he builds furniture for clients all over the Midwest and Mountain West.
He continued, “It was not easy at all times, but I can confidently say I get to do something I love every day.”
CUSTOMERS COME TO THE WEBSITE LOOKING FOR… high quality, custom-built furniture. I’ll build whatever you can dream up: anything from fly fishing nets to fireplace mantles to bed frames to dining room tables.
Being able to steer my business in the direction I want can be stressful, but also very rewarding.
THE BEST PART OF MY JOB IS… a tossup between the satisfaction of learning new skills or working with customers who truly appreciate what I’m doing.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE PROJECTS HAS BEEN… a set of six dining room chairs and a matching dining room table. This project was particularly meaningful because it was my first experience with designing and building chairs, and the lumber was from the farmstead where my grandma grew up. It’s cool to think she may have adventured in the trees that went into the project.
MY CLIENTS ARE INVOLVED… from the initial design all the way to the final details. I like to keep my clients involved by sending updates and photos throughout their build to help create an experience. One of my favorite moments is the first time a customer runs their hand over their new piece.
it can be frustrating learning how to cut dovetail joints or turning a chair leg on the lathe for the first time. But once I finally get that perfect fit or shape and deliver the finished piece to a customer’s home, it’s worth it.
SOMETHING I’M DOING WITH THE BUSINESS RIGHT NOW THAT I’M EXCITED ABOUT IS… taking on different types of projects that are testing my abilities. I currently have orders for dining room chairs, a buffet, and a kitchen island, and I’m working on them at the same time. They’re very different pieces and require different styles of woodworking, which is helping me continue to become a well-rounded craftsman. I’m learning how to work on a larger project, like kitchen cabinets, and then transition to hand-cut joinery for chairs.
KEEP UP WITH LEISCHNER’S PROJECTS
MY FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND MY LEISURE TIME IS… anything that involves being outside. Living in the Black Hills, I can go for a bike ride on Iron Mountain Road, a run up Black Elk Peak, a swim at Sheridan Lake, or chase some sharp-tailed grouse with my shotgun. The hard part is deciding which to do first.
SOMETHING THAT IS INFLUENCING ME RIGHT NOW IS… Scandinavian-style furniture. It’s simplistic and clean, yet complex. There have been many great furniture designers from that part of the world. Check out Børge Mogensen or Hans Wegner.
“I’m in the market of making beautiful work and making people see the beauty in themselves.”
Outside of his business, Leischner is finishing up his ’70s home remodel. He and his wife, Krista, welcomed their baby a little over a year ago, which put their project on hold. As they resume, the only big project remaining is the kitchen cabinets.
IN RAPID CITY, I LOVE TO GRAB… breakfast at Tally’s [Silver Spoon], mid-afternoon cold brew at Pure Bean [Coffeehouse], and then pizza and beer at Independent Ale House in the evening makes for a great Saturday. Outside the Rapid City limits, Skogen Kitchen in Custer is our go-to for a special outing.
Aside from odd items like cutting boards and fly fishing nets, Oak Hollow doesn’t have much of an inventory. The work is mostly commissioned furniture, and Leischner will build virtually anything his customers can come up with.
SOMEONE LOCAL WHO I ADMIRE IS… The owners of Sol Vibe Studio in Rapid City, Aaron and Kelsey Parker. Their love and passion for building people up and developing community is infectious.
ONE THING I LOVE ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA IS… the landscapes. It never ceases to amaze me that I can be standing in a forest and then walking through a sea of grass, stretching for miles, in a matter of minutes.