Wood Wizard Joe Bernau

Joe Bernau photoIf you notice that Joe Bernau has a knack for explaining the custom cabinetry and millwork he creates for Limitless Construction, it might be because he taught woodworking  after studying carpentry at Ridgewater College and getting his education degree at Bemidji State.

“I definitely use the teaching skills when working with Limitless clients. The most important thing I remember is that people learn differently,” he explained.  Sometimes his elevation drawings are what help people visualize how their kitchen cabinetry will look. Other clients may be more focused on discussing the species of wood or one of a kind detailing that will make their home’s woodwork special.

Old School Craftsman

At a time when skilled craftsmen are in short supply and big cabinet shops are compensating with computer-driven equipment, Joe is decidedly old school. He still draws conceptual sketches and dimensioned shop drawings on a drafting table and uses traditional stationary and portable power tools and hand tools to build his pieces.

“Through the years, I’ve done just about everything in residential remodeling, but I still prefer the woodworking that requires thought and attention to detail like kitchen islands, range hoods and fireplace surrounds.

Joe had good grades at Nicollet High School and could have done anything with his life. “I decided I didn’t want to wear a tie and sit behind a desk every day. I liked working with my hands, so I enrolled at Ridgewater,” he said.  That’s where he met Matt (Wagoner) and they built their first house together in the class. Matt later moved from Wilmar to the Twin Cities founded Limitless Construction.

Shop Teacher Learns Lesson

Joe comes from a family of pastors and teachers so no one was surprised when he went on to Bemidji State to earn a teaching degree and signed on as a shop teacher in Milaca after graduation.  He soon learned that teaching shop was not without its risks. Not the sharp blades and young users – the politics.

“We couldn’t call it wood shop. It was Technology Education or Industrial Technology. And when the  budgets got tight it came down to are you going to eliminate English and Math or Wood Shop.  You know how that went,” he recalled. “You get tired of fighting for your job.”

No matter, Joe now gets to do what he loves with his old Ridgewater buddy and a team of craftsmen who work like brothers.  “Our guys have been working together for 10 to 15 years. We are involved in all phases of construction. That’s what people like. Limitless is not one of those remodeling companies where a salesman sells you the job and you never see him again,” Joe said.

Dirty Hands Not A Problem

Joe and Lucia Bernau photoAlthough Joe and Matt are both accomplished woodworkers and carpenters, Joe jokes that Matt is the “more manicured” of the two. “He may show up and not look like he was working all day. I, on the other hand, like the whole process from tearing stuff apart to finish carpentry. So I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.”

Joe’s proudest creative achievement was with his wife, Kirstin.  The couples’ first child, Lucia, turns one next month. “She just learned to giggle. It’s great,” Joe beamed. She also has the coolest rocking horse in the Twin Cities.

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