The Seattle Woodworker Behind This Impressive Staircase With 4,000 Hand-Shaped Pieces


Seattle-based Nathie Katzoff has always had big dreams. As a child he got his start painting landscapes and portraits, eventually entering his work in competitions. During his teenage years Katzoff wanted to sail around the world, so he started building boats; this led to woodworking. “It was a great introduction to the craft because there’s so much curved and structural work that comes with it, so it provoked a lot of out-of-the-box thinking,” he explains.

With his feet now firmly planted on dry land, Katzoff has a thriving woodworking business, NK Woodworking, where he fashions custom pieces that can stem from a simple sketch or even his own imagination. One standout project is The Hive, a sculptural staircase that consists of 4,000 hand-shaped pieces of walnut with a 40-foot stainless-steel soffit. “A total of 11,000 man hours went into that project,” he says. “It’s probably the most unique wooden staircase ever made by us—and arguably, in the world.”

While wood is his primary medium, he also dabbles in hand-forged steel and casted glass. “There’s this point in the design-and-creation process where the piece starts out with a basic form, and then when I’m experimenting with different shapes and proportions, something finally clicks and it becomes something special,” says Katzoff. “Sometimes accidents turn into the most beautiful pieces.”