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Seaworthy tubs

Inspired by his experiences in boatbuilding, Nathie Katzoff, owner of NK Woodworking & Design in Seattle, is producing wooden bathtubs.

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“I have the idea that baths can be something really special,” Katzoff says. “In my mind, baths are often just sanitary pieces and they’re all just white. I’ve never seen a really cool custom bath made of custom materials and it’s quite an inspiration to think we can make something like this. At least part of my business has been to try to really apply to take things that are normal and apply a large amount of creativity and artistic stuff to it.”

The shop opened in 2011 and specializes in custom staircases.

Katzoff, 29, is from Massachusetts and attended The Landing School, a marine industry institution, when he was 18. He worked as a shipwright for a number of years, traveled a bit to learn from artisans of different mediums and ended up working as a furniture maker in Hawaii before settling in Washington.

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“I accidentally started the business. Previously, for my whole life, I had done art and always did creative-based work. Once I had my own business, I merged art and the craft of boatbuilding together. Our initial clientele wanted — and what takes us all over the country — is staircases. We are known for these ultra-custom wild floating staircases and compound curves and all that. We won national awards for that work,” Katzoff says.

“But merging the elements of boatbuilding and art and design led to us to the realization that if we can keep the water out, we can keep the water in. So we started building these bathtubs and that’s been a really fun hit as well.”

The shop has produced about 10 tubs to date. They’re also available in glass, metal and stone inlay. The wooden ones are made primarily from maple, mahogany, walnut and oak.

“The way we are building them requires some stability in the wood, but the wood is more of a decorative feature,” Katzoff adds. “There’s a composite finishing system that allows the wood to be protected, so we can use a lot of different materials. However, we put a lot of money into R&D to get that system working correctly. It’s a whole mix of different resin systems and chemicals. It’s a thick coating, but in person you can’t really tell. The one unfortunate part is that the finishing is very labor-intensive and time-intensive.”

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This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue.

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