Grayslake, IL, US
I began my apprenticeship at 14 yrs. old with master carpenter, Alan Melhiser during the summers in Austin Texas.
I learned many things like building cabinets on the jobsite, conventional stick framing and custom trim work.
He patiently showed me by example and with a kind voice how to have a strong work ethic.
I remember learning to use a Stanley back saw miter box (no cord) and eventually we upgraded to a PC miter box with a sacrificial wooden table.
We had a Rockwell 4" jointer and a 9" table saw with a tilt top, aluminum PC #315 skill saws - no carbide blades yet, Yankee screwdrivers, Stanley 9 1/2 and 60 1/2 block planes, Starret squares and plumb bobs.
Also, Velander mahogany levels, Disston 6 and 12 point hand saws, Blue Grass wood handled hammers with bees wax in a hole in the end for the 6 and 8 penny common trim nails - so the trim wouldn't split from nailing it by hand.
Woodworking came naturally to me. I was a student shop teacher and I went to a Furniture, Cabinet and Mill-work trade school after High school.
My Grandfather was an inventor and opened my eyes to what you can do with minimal tools and a great idea.
My mother is an artist and was very inspirational. I remember working on many projects around the house and in the garden together.
1980 - After a short tour in the Navy on the aircraft carrier, Enterprise, I moved to Lake Forest Illinois, met a girl, got married and started a remodeling business:
Reed Builders Inc.
I went to the Lake County college at night to study Architecture, Construction Tech., Microsoft Office and QuickBooks pro, Real Estate Practice and Small Business Management.
In the early years I also followed opportunity to work with prominent north shore contractors such as Traditional Concepts, Page Builders and Chicago's oldest union cabinet shop, Dettmers.
They offered a way for me to work on larger projects and learn many things about the Union way, high end project management and office politics.
But I always maintained my remodeling/cabinetry business which kept me busy on weekends and in between projects.
I was never out of work.
We avoided huge overhead costs with our in home office and a small cabinet shop. We stayed manageable with only 4 - 8 men until the downturn.
Now, the crew are all sub contractors, some we've known for over 26 years.
I have been fortunate to work mostly in Lake Forest and Lake bluff IL, one of the wealthiest towns in America. The people here are very nice and appreciate good quality work.
Most of my clients know each other. I prefer to work with references only but enjoy meeting new people to see if we are a good fit.
We were mostly a kitchen and bath remodeler in the last few years.
We handled everything including design service and 3D drawings. We provided and installed Plato Cabinetry or we could build custom built ins such as: paneled libraries, mantles, home theaters, wine rooms, organizer closets and pantries for clients and Architects.
We also did complete house gut and remodels, historic restorations, timber frame additions, furniture repairs, shade arbors and multi level decks.
Sad that I had to edit this ......
I guess, it looks like I'm semi retired now. I can finally finish my own house.
Plus, I have about 20 or 30 past clients that I take care of now.
Mostly small stuff: Hardware and furniture repairs, jewelry boxes and gifts, fireplace mantles and custom cabinetry, whatever I can do myself.
But, I like doing this. Much less stressful, that's for sure.
Life is good.
Sorry, but I believe I Have paid it forward ...... You guys are on your own.
Our immortality lies in the knowledge we leave behind.
Our mark in the world lives on in the things we create.
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