Every Day Put Your Hands on the Work 1


My motto is “Every day put your hands on the wood.’ This says volumes to me, actually more than I can communicate fully in a short blog. I can and want to however, hit the high spots because this idea has brought so much good to me.

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You might say I began building furniture in 2004 or 2005. It came in stages. I was inspired by designs I had seen, but mostly by a friend who built furniture. I had met him through my house restoration activities in which we asked him to do custom planning. I saw the other work he did while I was in his shop and began asking him questions. He was amazingly generous with me, and through him I caught the bug. I have been so thankful for this and every year we go out to lunch the day before Christmas.

Actually building furniture came slowly. I read everything I could get my hands on about cabinets and furniture.  It was around 2004 when three things happened that set everything in motion. First, my partner and I saw that the time was right, as our differing interests and support structures were diverging, and we were to go our separate business ways. We have remained best of friends, just not partners. Second, I with some friends made a killing on a land deal. This left me with a decision to make: did I want to continue speculating on land or did I want to change my direction. That’s where the third impact occurred. I read Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton. It was in the section where he describes Hamilton’s attempts to start manufacturing in Patterson, New Jersey and what Hamilton’s goals were (and how they failed at first) that I began to realize that deep within me I wanted to communicate to my family that we stood for hard work and delayed gratification. My worldview just had no room in it for the get-rich-quick approach.

So, I decided to change direction and took my part of the proceeds, along with a loan from the bank, paid off some debts and built and supplied a shop. Business did not roll in. I had much to learn in production and design – still do – and no one knew I was there. That’s when I said that every day I have to put my hands on the wood.

This is my way of saying persistence, experimentation, investment, all in a real world setting, pay off. Slowly, I have begun to amass a cadre of customers, and have presented my products in a wider and wider circle of settings. More than anything else though, this process has helped me to realize my potential as an artisan and a person. Thus, ‘Every day put your hands on the wood’ has become my motto and something that I hope to pass along.


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One thought on “Every Day Put Your Hands on the Work

  • Barbara Rennels

    Joe,

    I so enjoyed reading your background and “story” Keep your updates coming and keep putting your hands on the wood. Happy Thanksgiving and love to Sharon.

    My family was here last week, my brother a builder, man of all talents and a cousin in the creative art small business for friends and family. We toured the Grove Park Inn and Grovewood Gallery seeing beautiful designs, boxes to furniture. Thought of you all day. Happy about your creations. B