Photo provided courtesy of Vice

“The devil is in the details,” literally… The seemingly innocuous mountain pine beetle (MPB), roughly the size of a raisin, has brought a host of problems to North America and nestled its way into approximately 3 million acres worth of trees throughout Colorado and Wyoming forests.  The little critters, valuable when controlled, typically attack weakened or older trees making way for the new young trees- with the unseasonably warm winters and hot summers the small population has turned into an enormous blight and moved onto tackling whole forests.

The MPB works as a complex and organized unit.  Attacking the tree and laying eggs beneath the bark, the growing beetles introduce blue stain fungus into the sapwood, preventing the tree from being able to defend itself. The fungus blocks water and nutrient transport within the tree and the colonizing group of bugs soon over take and kill the tree within a few weeks.  Little can be done to help tackle the wide spreading bug dilemma not to mention the staggering piles of blue and green striped pine leftover, much of it wasted and unused.

Enter Corbin Clay, MPB’s MVP- a carpenter by trade and local business owner with some tenacious goals, has taken on the task of transforming the dead beetle wood into your handcrafted dinner table or other furniture needs. Corbin is now vying for your votes to help expand his cause and business. One of just five finalists, Corbin has made the cut for GQ and Ketel One “A Gentleman’s Call,”winning will help to streamline and expand the small woodworking company bringing down labor costs and allowing more accessibility. Not convinced? See for yourself.

Photo provided courtesy of Vice

Corbin’s motivation on tackling beetle kill pine-

Simply put, “Nothing was being done… it was our responsibility to help out and try to mitigate this issue as much as we can.” With the cost of the material being substantially lower Corbin’s thoughts on utilizing and making the woodworking more open states:

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to produce a very well made piece of furniture at a much more accessible price.”

On concerns of quality and durability-

With assurances that no beetles would be popping out from my dinner table, as the beetles have long since left. After purchasing from a Summit county mill, Corbin talks about the labor intensive secondary milling process, all taking place directly in the shop.  All of the furniture is treated with a green guard certified (the authority on indoor air quality) post catalyzed conversion varnish. Corbin elaborates:

“It is hands down the most durable finish on the market  by the time our furniture hits your front door step it has off gassed any harmful toxins- so it’s completely non toxic.”

What’s that mean to you and me? Corbin kindly explained through industry standard testing (common household liquids) the only thing to damage the varnish is 100 proof whiskey left standing for 24 hours. And if that’s not enough, Corbin offers a lifetime warranty on all their furniture- it’s built to last.

Corbin business plan also focuses on sustainability- 

The wood smith explains:

“You really can’t get a much more environmentally sustainable material. Why are we cutting down live trees when there are four million acres standing dead? … You’re not only supporting the Denver community in which we live, you’re also supporting the entire state from the loggers and the mill and the distributors and everyone else that we touch through our process, that’s pretty exciting stuff.”

Corbin has certainly found a niche and a way to incorporate the unique wood for anyone’s taste. To vote for Corbin visit, voting starts today Oct. 24th and ends midnight Nov. 26th PST- vote daily! You can also checkout his works locally at Corbin Custom Woodworking and Blu Cabinetry in Aurora.



Mountain pine beetle, (last visited Oct. 24, 2012).