CK Valenti Designs

CK Valenti is the little shop that could. They cater to the custom market and are more than happy to work with a client who wants something a little special, a little different… no amount of detail and complexity is too much! To date, every single piece they have done has been a one of a kind. The shop does double duty; being equally skilled in woodworking as well as the decorative metalwork that gives Southwest style it’s signature. But this shop is all about substance as well as style. Owner Chris Valenti has made it his mission to make going green a simple, accessible and straightforward process.

Some cabinetmakers start asking questions about the products they are using when they realize that their eyes burn or their throats hurt. Chris Valenti started asking questions about what products were in his shop when his cat got sick from lacquer fumes. He began to wonder “if this is what happened to my cat, what is happening to the people?” It was then that Valenti realized changes had to be made.

As a first step Valenti moved into a new 4,000 square foot shop and promptly began building a fully enclosed spray booth operation. Then he began to examine the materials and finishes he was using. “I always ask people what their preference is regarding lacquer or water based finishes. A lot of people have not really thought about it before and it is my responsibility to explain the difference to them. I always give the client what they want but I highly encourage water-based finishes.

“But finishes on are the surface, dig deeper and there are other issues, such as glue.” continued Valenti. “People don’t realize that there is a lot of glue in board and not all glues are good to be around. We use PureBond® hardwood plywood because it uses formaldehyde-free technology.”

His process did not stop there, this former engineer continued to ask questions about where materials come from and how they are extracted, processed and shipped. He discovered that some products that people think are a good “green” idea may not be. “Many people began asking for bamboo products because they thought bamboo was greener than plywood, but consider this: The US leads the world in responsible hardwood forest management. Who is regulating the companies in China like they regulate the companies in the US? No one! I found that the increased cost in “green materials” lies more in the bamboo products than in the hardwood products. I encourage the use of responsibly managed North American hardwood but if my client wants a bamboo because of the look, the best solution is the PureBond bamboo veneer!”

“I am also a big proponent of prefinished products such as Columbia’s Maple veneer faced plywood,” says Valenti. “The cost for the board maybe a little higher than a cheaper piece of plywood that is not finished but once you finish an unfinished board it is even more expensive!

“We prefer to use all domestic products, no imports because domestic products are simply greener, in a number of ways, like how they are harvested and how they are processed. Imported products have to be shipped here and that creates a lot of carbon. And why import when we have so many good hardwoods here in this country? We also like to use reclaimed wood and recently we have begun using mesquite which is a local, native, not-endangered species.”

Valenti ends the conversation with this caveat. “A lot of people don’t realize these issues and it is my responsibility not only to give them what they want, but to also point these issues out to them.”