Wood worker Derek Stavenger on Cypress Alley

When Derek Stavenger took a middle-school woodworking class, he fell in love with the craft. 

Now, roughly 50 years later, Stavenger still enjoys spending his days making things in his workshop in Cypress Alley. 

“I’m mostly self-taught,” said Stavenger. ” I had kind of have a knack for it, and I love wood. Each piece is different. Each species has its own special characteristics.” 

Stavenger ran a painting business for much of his early adulthood, and still does, but decided 20 years ago to invest more seriously in woodworking, not only as a hobby, but as a profession. 

“I kind of just took stock, wasn’t super happy in the painting business. So I took a look at myself and asked what I really loved doing, and woodworking popped up as the number one thing,” Stavenger said. 

Much of Stavenger’s work today is in old Victorian houses, where he replaces rotting or missing parts, or creates new additions. He also works on his own 1875 Victorian. 

“It needed everything redone, so I’ve restored it from the foundation up. New electrical, basically rebuilt the whole building. As all the bigger projects have gotten finished, I’ve started to make a lot of furniture for the house,” Stavenger said. 

“Woodworking is a different way of thinking. It’s a form of active meditation. Rather than just sitting, it’s doing something,” Stavenger said. 

While business slowed during the pandemic, Stavenger has enjoyed the  solitude of working in his shop.

“I’m a little bit of an introvert, so I love being at home, and certainly have a ton of home projects to do,” Stavenger said. 


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Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at Golden Gate Xpress, SF State’s student paper.

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  2. We love Derek, he’s helped us with some great projects on our own Mission Victorian.