Guild of Oregon Woodworkers

7634 SW 34th Avenue Portland, OR 97219
Doug Courtney
Business Name: Pro-forma Designs
Location: Clackamas, OR 97015
Phone: 503-780-9378 

In this entry of the gallery we spend time with Doug Courtney, past president of the Guild. After a 10-year career in Architectural design and contracting, Doug turned a furniture-building hobby into Pro-forma designs in 1975. Restoring antiques, designing and building studio furniture, and remodeling interiors with all manner of woodcraft fulfill a passion to design and create. His private and public commissions for display cases and mountings of various historical collections and artifacts have been his most challenging and rewarding work. Doug currently spends his spare time building a retro mahogany speedboat of his own design.

Doug explains the philosophy of his business as follows:

What can explain the pervasive seduction and influence of such a common material? From that trans-fixed gaze into a roaring campfire to the emotional connection we feel with Grandmas warn maple rocker, the infinite beauty of wood captures our imagination and stirs our senses, its use gives life to our dreams and defines our culture.

Wood craftsmen today ply their trade much as they always have embellishing articles of use with the well-honed skills born of trial and error consumed by the process of exploring woods infinite possibilities. If experience is the best teacher then wood must be the best experience.

What follows are some examples of Doug's outstanding craftsmanship.


Chest on chest with drawers behind doors


30 w x 45 h x 16 d

CLIENT: Produced on speculation for the Interiors by Invitation show held at the Japanese Gardens Pavilion in Sept. 2001. Currently for sale.

COMPOSITION: African Shedua cabinetry, Birds eye Hawaiian Koa inlaid sun and drawer fronts, Ebonized Lacewood inlaid river , quarter-sawn white Oak drawer sides, Aromatic Cedar drawer bottoms, African Wenge for base and moldings.

CONSTRUCTION: Traditional pegged box-joint cabinetry with mitered front corners, inlaid raised panel doors with curved and mitered frames, cast bronze pulls and forged iron hinges and welded iron bamboo lower handles.

COMMENTS: The tansu ( Asian chest) has survived for centuries on simplicity of form and function, honoring the deep cultural ethic that produced it. Within a rectangle of pleasing proportions, made light for easy transport with exo-skeletal framing, shelves, doors (sliding and hinged) and drawers were arranged to provide a place for every article of use. Metal strapping, both ornate and plain, provided strength and protection. Occasionally, figured woods decorated the facade revealing a connection to the infinite beauty and inspiration that Nature provides.


Rosewood chest on chest


Base: 36 w x 28 h x 16 d 
Top: 32 w x 46 h x 10 d

CLIENT: Mr. Herbert Petcheck - Commissioned as a gift for his wife to display a collection of Asian china.

COMPOSITION: East Indian Rosewood cabinetry, doors, and shelves, Birdseye Ebony door pulls, brass knife hinges.

CONSTRUCTION: cabinetry assembled with through dovetails and mitered front corners, sculpted base plinth and waist molding, with plank back set in groove. The pulls are carved and lapped into doors and pinned with brass.

COMMENTS: I cannot completely explain or claim the inspiration for this design, or its deeply marked influence since. Its subtle curves and sculpted plinth came as a bolt of lightening, complete in every detail, and burned its image on my napkin and the cover of Fine Woodworking magazine ... no agonizing details to work out ... no glaring design dilemmas. Although nearly five hundred hours were required to complete its construction, the boards themselves seemed to grow into place.



36 w x 78 l x 36 h

CLIENT: Portland Art Museum, to display ancient Chinese scroll for the donor.

COMPOSITION: Eastern Maple throughout, lacquered in tan color.

CONSTRUCTION: Raised panel apron, splined to the leg and rail assembly that is connected with a traditional triple miter with a locking mortise and tennon at the corner.

COMMENTS: A collaborative effort involving the design work by Sam Bush, custom millwork by the Swiss cabinetmaker, and finish by Specialty Coatings. The construction joinery dictated that the leg/frame assembly be joined to the apron panels simultaneously requiring an assembly frame be constructed to suspend the parts to allow clamping in three directions at once.


Display case


32 w x 30 d x 38 h

CLIENT: Commissioned by the Magna Charta in America Foundation and Oregon Historical Society for the Bicentennial of the Bill of Rights.

COMPOSITION: White oak cabinetry, Lexan viewing window.

CONSTRUCTION: The cabinetry is wrapped with moldings that miter into columns notched to wrap the corner. A hidden drawer seals off interior air from outside contamination when opened and the interior contains environmental and security equipment following the specifications issued by the British Library.

COMMENTS: The Magna Charta had been locked deep in a vault underground for decades until the Bill of Rights Bi-centennial celebration and Paul Parker brought it to the United States. The project became a collaborative effort involving the expertise of many and a brass plaque that commemorates their accomplishments appears on the back. Jack Thompson of Thompson Conservation Labs designed and installed the environmental and security systems. Sam Bush returned from Lincoln Cathedral, London ( home of the Magna Charta) to design the cabinetry and coordinate its construction. The late Emmett Turner made the corner columns to copy those in the cathedral. Others milled all the molding, covered an internal border with linen, and applied a beautiful finish. The Magna Charta then came to North America to be united with its new cabinet and spent two years touring the U.S. and Canada with The Bill of Rights. It now resides in Lincoln Cathedral, London, on public display. 

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