Saint John’s Abbey Woodworking is a small team who carry on a tradition of excellence in furniture making. We design and fabricate our wood furniture using traditional methods of joinery and craftsmanship. We strive to be a shop where product quality and 'a sense of place' come together to create furniture that will last for generations.
Michael Roske is a third generation Saint John’s employee and alumnus of Saint John’s Preparatory School and University. Michael began his furniture making career at Turner Windfield Design in Madison, Wisconson. After working at several local cabinet shops, he joined the staff of Saint John’s Abbey Woodworking in 1983, becoming Lead Craftsman in 2006. Michael has helped to craft thousands of pieces of furniture, doors and other items during his tenure here and enjoys creating solid wood furniture with integrity. He appreciates the full spectrum of the woodworking process at Saint John's from the harvesting of trees in the Arboretum, through kiln drying and milling, and ending with the finished product. Some of Michael's handiwork can be seen on campus in the SJU President's office, the Great Hall, especially, in the drawer box portion of the Heritage Edition Saint John's Bible Cabinet.
Anyone who comes to the woodworking shop is likely to be greeted by Michael who some say epitomizes the Benedictine charism of hospitality.
Abbey Woodworking also provides several CSB/SJU students with meaningful, hands-on woodworking experience . We are proud to hire qualified student workers who need the financial support for their schooling. As a side benefit, it gives students a unique opportunity to interact with monastic and lay craftspeople and learn skills that can develop into a future hobby or business opportunity. In addition, vocation guests, candidates and novices of Saint John's Abbey usually join the staff of Abbey Woodworking for some of their manual labor.
Robert Lillard joined Abbey Woodworking in 2006. Shortly after graduation from college in Oregon, Rob came to Minnesota for graduate school. 'It was during this period that I came to the realization that what really interested me was working with my hands.' That was over 30 years ago; and today, furniture making continues to be a passion for Rob.
Rob has worked as a wood craftsman at several wood shops in the Minneapolis area, including 15 years as the owner/operator of a small shop specializing in custom exhibits for the trade show industry. Rob's specialty is constructing the display top and stand portions of the Heritage Edition Saint John's Bible Cabinet. He enjoys working at a shop that still works almost exclusively in solid wood.
K.C. Marrin is a mechanical action pipe organ builder by trade and operates a small shop in Cold Spring, MN. Throughout the past 35 years, he has designed, built and restored instruments throughout Minnesota and the surrounding area. KC assists Abbey Woodworking in an advisory capacity and in areas of product design and CAD production.
KC's interest in woodworking began in college when he met Br. Hubert Schneider, OSB during a January Term project in the Abbey Woodworking shop. 'Those of us who were fortunate enough to approach his workbench seeking the most elementary advice met not only a monk, craftsman and mentor, but a man whose gentle manner and care for people spoke to the essence of what craft is about. He showed us through a Benedictine reverence for tools and materials, and by his daily acts of kindness, that within the discipline of handwork is the potential to transform even the most ordinary task into an extraordinary moment of inspiration and service to others.