Mark Reed, Grayslake, IL, US

Summer 1972

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.


Me personally?

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.

Gender: Male

Birthday: 10/09/1957

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A Bread Board made by a Blue Collar Bread Winner

Don't know about you ...... but, this is how us blue collar crusty carpenters like makin bread boards. . No mortised handmade miters, baltic bamboo butterflies, or a slidin sassafrass slip fitNo...

A Fireplace Mantle for a new Friend

I finally had the opportunity to take a picture of this mantle and share it with you. The client originally hired me to help him with his stair railings. They turned out really nice, so he asked me...

Reflections of the USS Enterprise

Oak framed Mirror with glass display shelf This mirror frame is made from 2 1/4" oak colonial door casing cut offs and a used mirror from a bathroom remodel. There is a  1 1/2 x 1/2" oak pc. on...

The Four Year Project

155 gal. bow front salt water aquarium stand This project took forever to build. It all started when a neighbor asked me to install a bay window for them. He had his own aquarium business, like that...

Please leave a Message at the Beep....

Winter has come and gone and still the phone sits in silence. It was supposed to start ringing by April 1st. It always does. Wait…..a message! God…. I hope it’s a big Kitchen...

Mission Oak Office Desk Center from leftovers

Or -What to make with 3- 4×8 sheets of rift oak plywood, 2 metal file cabinets, 2 left over 30×16 dovetailed maple drawers, and 2 old base drawer cabinets? As a cabinet maker, my...

Reed's Woodshop

Welcome to my little world. The shop is always open. Thanks to all of you for giving me a reason to finally clean my shop and photograph it. This shop has been a small work in progress for the last...

The last of the Dinosaurs

The Moore ProjectArchitect: John Richert, owner of Crossroads Blue Sky This was one of the last rear projection cabinets I reluctantly built. The pocket doors stuck way out when open, and the lower...

Laundry room Cabinetry

These laundry cabinets were built for the Steers family Addition.  There was an existing 2nd flr hall closet that was only 2 ft deep due to the roof angle behind it. We raised the roof...

Maple Library

Built for the Sable family, this maple desk and bookcase Library was alot of fun to build.

Foot Locker

  Made of 3/4" maple plywood and solid maple doors and face frames. Spray painted white with clear varnish inside.

Octagon Window Bench Seat

This octagon window seat is made of pre finished clr. Maple plywood inside and wrapped in vgrv.1x6 and painted poplar trim. The top is made of cherry. There are 3 dust free storage areas with...

Cherry Entertainment Center

This cabinet was built for the Vickers family. Made of cherry and clear maple plywood casework inside the lower cabinets. It doesn't look like much here on Fine Woodworkng but a true...

Oak Mantle and Bookcase

This cabinet was built for the Anderson whole house remodel project. 

Oak Built in Armoires with dresser

Originally, there was a single 5 ft. long closet with bi fold doors and a small half bath that stuck out 5 ft. into the 13.5 x 18 ft. bedroom. The outside wall was so cold in the winter it created...

Oak Display Cabinet

We collect pottery so I made this display cabinet with a towel bar below for the bathroom.

Bathroom Vanity from recycled oak flooring

A few years ago, I remodeled a large home and saved the 120 yr old, 1/4 sawn oak flooring that was installed with square nails and used it to build this vanity and mirror frame. The case is made of...

grampa's tool box

My Grandfather, Francis Townsend was an inspiration to me as I grew up. He was always working on one of his inventions in his shop when I came to visit. He would love to explain when I asked and...

Recent comments

Re: Please leave a Message at the Beep....

ohwoodeye, no worries mate.
I understand your point and believe it or not, somewhat agree. I just felt like you publically stepped on my foot with your comment... and considering many of us are in the same boat with the bad economy, I thought the post would be welcomed and certainly appropriate.

Momma says: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
I struggle sometimes with this one myself. I think it comes with being a woodworker.

This is why this website needs a PM button like Lumberjocks.

My pen name is reedwood. Look me up and buddy me. I'd like to see your projects and get to know you.


Re: Please leave a Message at the Beep....

chadinnb, Thank you for saying that. I looked at ohwoodeyes profile and noticed he doesn't have any projects posted but plenty of comments. I'm not sure why he chose to put me in my place instead of not saying anything at all. oh well.

Your kind words negate his inacurate opinion so it's all good.

ohwoodye - if you like woodworking, take a look at my profile. And yes, I did post this at lumberjocks. I've noticed a lot of woodworkers post items or blogs on multiple sites.
I guess I could have gone in to detail on how I made the tiny wooden mushroom stud that broke but this site only allows 5 pictures.
I'm sorry you missed the point. Next time...bud.

Re: Please leave a Message at the Beep....

says who are you? FW PC police? Geez....WTF!

Re: Please leave a Message at the Beep....

Re: Hamburg Ridge Woodworks basement shop-Old basement!


Well, I would have to agree, the pictures don't help make your basement shop look very pretty, but that's OK by me. Keeps the wife out of the way. ha.

Maybe someday, you could throw up some drywall, paint it white, and spray the ceiling. That would brighten it up a bit. No doubt, it's probably "on the list".

But,I like your no nonsense approach to function to maximize production. Good use of space, working around those metal columns. I wish I had 14 ft. cutting capacity without moving things.

A thumbs up making do with what cha got! I like it.

Re: Reed's Woodshop

Hey Joe,
Basement shops are great in the winter time. Free heat!

I'm at the corner of valley view and willow point in Wildwood. Always glad to know a neighbor who likes woodworking too. If you want to stop by for a beer, give me a call. 847 204 9575.


The slat board brackets are just regular H.D. peg board double hooks. After everything is in place, I used bolt cutters to trim them back so they don't stick out.

Slat board is so much better looking than pegboard.

Re: UPDATE: Book Giveaway: Woodworking Techniques from Fine Woodworking

Hi Mrs. Engel,

Thank you for thinking of us. Great idea.
I have been reading your magazine since the beginning.
My collection of FW and FHB go back to #54 in 1985.

The quality of the print and photgraphs, and the articles makes it the Achitectural Digest of woodworking. I have many of your books as well.

When FW comes in the mail, My wife knows to leave me alone until I have read the whole magazine. Then I read it again in the "library". Ha!

I already have this book so if I should win the contest, I would like you to offer it to a young woodworker that I have come to "know" thru his postings here on FW.

He reminds me of myself and I know it would be a nice addition to his own collection.

But, if you have an extra Lie Nielson plane lying around....

Mark Reed

Re: Wall-O-Tools

Hi Sdbranam,
Very nice collection of planes and tools! Those Lie Nielsen? back saws are one of my favorites.

I like the way you laid everything out. I can tell you put some time in to it. Good job.

In fact, it looks so nice, now you just have to add drywall behind it and paint the wall so it stands out even more.

10 users recommended you, but no comments. I don't get it.

Have you checked out Come on over, post this project there, sit back, and feel the love.

5 bucks bets you will get at least 10-14 comments.

We are very considerate of each other and like to comment. One big happy family. Great blogs too.

Still a fan of Fine woodworking. Maybe the editor should come over and get some love and bring it back here. Ha!

Re: The last of the Dinosaurs

Hi gaijin,

That is the 2 1/2 car garage. The living room is on the left and there is a huge family room off the kichen in the back.

There is also a single car garage for Biff's sports car. jk

Allot of house for a not so wide lot. The master bedroom suite and drive in closet are huge.

It really opens up in the back of the house. We had deer in the deep backyard during the project. They're cute but were very destructive to expensive new landscaping.

I had more pictures but my camera walked off one day or I left it where I wouldn't lose it before I could download them. I'm hoping to get more pictures this summer.

Re: Laundry room Cabinetry

Good question Shtscore.
We had a SS pan made (200.00) that was exactly the right size inside the cabinet x 1" tall and then glued it to the new treated sub floor.

The 1/2" durock and tile butted flush to top of the front edge. Then we installed with silicone, treated 1" x 3" cleats with 2" holes x 3/16" deep, in front only, for the feet to keep it from walking.

To remove, just unhook lines, grab the bottom and lift slightly and pull it forward. Plug is behind unit and easy to reach once unit is out. The exhaust was the tough part.
to get the unit this tight you can't use a flex vent.

The floor joists were doubled and blocked to prevent shaking and noise from vibration. Very important on a second floor.
I would never recommend installing these units on a 2nd floor without a wall directly under it.

Note: this pan requires that you pour a pint of water in it at least once every 3-6 mos. to keep the p trap full to prevent odors from backing up.

Good luck with your project. Thanks for the thumbs up.

Re: Cutlists are a waste of space

Great comments here.
When I finally put my 150+ collection of Fine Woodworking magazines in my new office bookcase, I couldn't help notice that my oldest issue #52 from may 1985 had 11 more pages than #217.

Magazines must be a tough business these days with the Internet. Everything has changed.

If the info is available online, it really doesn't have to be published in the magazine, does it?

Every good project starts with gathering as much info as possible. Do your own cut list so that you can walk thru the project in your mind.

A side bar: I always clean my shop completely before I start any project.

I believe you must pay it forward.
Our immortality lies in the knowledge you leave behind.
Our mark in the world lives on in the things we create.

Re: Laundry room Cabinetry

My shop is small and I don't have a spray booth so I like to buy 3/4 prefinished clear maple plywood for the casework, wrap with hardwood panels and solid frames and have them sprayed by my cabinet finisher. Then I install them with biscuits.
The stain finish is an oil based product that was sprayed on, then 2 coats of poly that are rubbed out after drying for a week.
FYI- you have to tell these guys to finish all sides of the face frame if you prefer it. I hate it when painters don't finish things just because you can't see it.

Thank you for the compliment.

Re: MDF Is ......

I remember when MDF came on the scene and Architects wanted to use it for everything including exterior grade trim. I've read that it's gotten better. But they seem to have gone back to hardwoods and primed finger jointed trim. Good.

I am an old dog and haven't used MDF or particle board on any of my projects. But I'Ve torn out and replaced plenty.
It soaks up moisture and expands, it's heavy, breaks easy, and doesn't hold a screw.

I've accidentally broken IKEA style furniture just trying to move it on my remodeling projects enough to swear never to use it.
But, my shop is small and I seldom glue veneers. I prefer to order high quality hardwood plywoods. One less step for me.
I'm sure there are projects where it's the best choice.
Great blog.

Re: Father Son Project

Toolboxes are a great project.
I had to insist that my son try cutting his name out on the band saw when he was 10. He didn't want to at first but once he got in to it, he wanted to make more things.
As if a light bulb turned on and a new woodworking fan was born. What a great way to spend time together.
He's 32 now and he still thanks me for "making" him learn woodworking. I prefer encouraging.
Thank you.

Re: Ribbon Box

Very cool. Love the dots and the recessed lid. Did you steam and bend the ribbons? I'm guessing no.
All that work in 18 - 20 hrs? I need to work faster.

Re: Cherry Chest to hold wife's ever expanding polish pottery collection

Hey wait a minute! Where is the pottery?

Don't want to stir up trouble but wouldn't your lovely wife prefer to have her collection on display? Hmmm?

I know. You could build a display cabinet with glass shelves and doors to sit on top of this cabinet.

Maybe add 2 puck lights inside with a touch switch attached to the exposed hinge. Nice 2 3/4" crown on top.

I collect pottery too so I hope you don't mind the suggestion. The cabinet looks great. Nice job.

Re: Hope Chest

Very nice.
I really like the contrasting colors and wood grains.

I made one similar to this that inside had cedar closet liner on the bottom and a 5" tall, dovetailed drawer box on cleats so it could slide back and forth.
Works great for smaller items that are too big for her new jewelry box.(your next project?) ha.

Please let your daughter know I think she's pretty lucky to have such a cool dad.

Thanks for sharing

Re: Cherry Sideboard

A family Heirloom. Very unique. I like the maple inlays.

Re: Signature series one of a kind boxes

Very nice. The colors are so vibrant. Man, I love exotic wood grains!

I would love to see a picture of the insides.

This website needs to allow more pictures.

Thanks for sharing.

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