Gary Krauss – Master Wood Craftsman –Great Basin Buckaroo
Gary Krauss builds heirloom furniture during the winter months and buckaroos on big desert and Montana ranches in the summer….a rich and rewarding life that began with him flunking woodworking in Junior High! But he got better….
Gary grew up in Grants Pass, Oregon. His dad raised paint horses and taught school. “I had always admired the buckaroos and that whole style of bridle horses and handling cattle,” he says. That led to Gary ranching off and on for the rest of his life, including earning a degree in Ranch Management from Texas Christian University. He has worked mostly on large….well HUGE….ranches in several places including managing Deer Creek Land and Cattle Co, near Grants Pass, for eight years until it was sold; then he ran cattle between Lakeview, Oregon and Paisley at the Rivers End Ranch; and later moved to Hobson, Montana to take on a full time outside riding job on a 4500 mother cow ranch which was 50-60 miles end to end. Though he thoroughly enjoyed his work at that place, his marriage broke up, and with a ten year old son to raise, he worked in the woods for awhile and first started working with wood. Most recently he buckarooed for the Nine Peaks Ranch, near Fort Rock, Oregon for Aaron and Rebecca Borror…a ranch that runs 20 miles from north to south.
Winter ranching can be cold and miserable. “One year I decided it was more fun to be out in the summer and inside in the winter. I modified my program a little,” he says with a laugh.
He is a mostly self-taught furniture maker. In the beginning, to learn how to be the best woodworker he could be, he tried to apprentice under John Gallis of http://www.norsemandesignswest.com. John quickly saw Gary’s talent and encouraged him to go home and start making furniture. “You’re on to something no one else is doing,” he told him. Though he uses exotic wood from all over the world, he says of the joy of working with tangled and curvy juniper wood, his favorite, “I don’t know why I get so much pleasure out of using organic forms. It seems natural to incorporate the natural beauty of wood instead of trying to change it.” The furniture he creates are master pieces appreciated by fine art lovers nationwide. The table featured on the opening page of this website sold for $18,000. New pieces are generally showcased at Bub Warren’s gallery in Redmond, Oregon. Watch this website for previews of his newest work in progress.
The woodworking class he failed..well the irony is his dad was a wood working teacher. “He wants to see plan drawings and measurements. I don’t do any of that! Drives him crazy!” says Gary. “I think I can make a one legged pool table.” He continues, “I don’t make a lot of pieces, less than a half dozen major pieces each winter.” He has a shop at his house. “I work in the most dysfunctional way possible, sometimes to 2-3 in the morning if I want to.”
His next dream – a little cabin in the middle of an ancient juniper forest. He is a man who has carefully crafted an interesting, fulfilling life. No doubt one day this cabin will rise up out of the scab rocks and sagebrush of the Fort Rock desert.