Where in the World Wednesday
Rustic Furniture with Don
Today I decided to combine a fairly new blog column and Small Business Saturday. Normally, I would write about my international travels but today, I’ll feature my brother, who has been working hard to turn his working man’s hobby into a business.
Don has been working with wood all his life alongside his father, Don Bovaird, The Tree Man. My brother grew up in the tree felling business and worked his way up from a ground stick picker to a wood cutter. When Dad passed away in 2006, he took over the business. However, it’s seasonal and once the snow falls, jobs slow down – though there is a trickle of business from those who want to purchase firewood.
Winters were difficult for Don. To make it through, he picked up jobs like delivering pizza and snowplowing, the latter, which he still does. Then he hit on a way that led to his creativity and challenged his woodcraft.
Where my father refurbished old vehicles in the slow season, my brother took on a hobby of making furniture from the lumber that came from the trees he cut down.
Typical of the Bovaird men, he threw himself into the hobby from the start. He sold his woodcraft at flea markets and wood shows in the surrounding area. He started with lamps and end tables. Now he designs all sorts of furniture in his Franklin Avenue workshop.
His furniture is “rustic” because of the rugged, outdoorsy look. The beauty comes from the grains of wood itself. He brings it out with a clear polyethylene stain, which makes the grains shine. He leaves the bark on some pieces to show a contrast from the smooth wood grains.
What kind of market does he have for it? It is a niche market. It probably appeals most to hunters who have cabins in the woods. But anyone who likes wood would enjoy his tables and lamps. They’re each unique to the type of wood each individual piece has. Some are made from slab wood and others are from finished lumber. He has a trained eye to see how best to bring out the natural design in the wood he has.
He held his first open house at 4700 Franklin Ave in Fairview this past Friday and Saturday. I hadn’t seen his new showroom yet so I decided to visit him and check out his latest designs.
The first tell-tale sign of his side business is a park bench on a what looks like a rustic farm cart that welcomes the driver to the property. What a unique calling card!
We drove into ‘the land’–as we have called the property for years –and stopped. At the entrance to his new showroom, we found he had redone the side of the building in light and dark-colored lumber. He had one of his new lamp designs at the doorway.
Inside his showroom, I paused as my eyes adjusted to the dimmer light. He had the wood stove going and the room was toasty warm. I couldn’t immediately place the room in my head. Had it been my father’s old office? It was quite large and welcoming.
His showroom certainly had a rustic feel to it. He had mounted a buck’s head with a full rack of antlers on the wall. Did I mention my brother is an avid hunter? It also had a Native touch to it with wooden sculptures, dream catchers and paintings done by native Americans.
My brother enjoys attending pow-wows in nearby New York state. He has developed friendships over the years with various native American groups in their reservations. Both my brothers share that interest, in fact. Coon pelts, antlers and other related paraphernalia grace his creations along with photographs of key workers over the years in the family wood-cutting business.
My brother, Don, looked relaxed as he greeted the visitors to his shop. I usually see him in the truck and on-the-go with little time to chat. I really enjoyed seeing this side to him. Two other people, a man and a woman, were checking out his furniture. They seemed to be longtime friends with a family history behind them.
On a side note, shortly after that, the woman mentioned that she recognized me. It turns out I spoke to her class several years ago when I returned from Japan. The kids had loved my presentation and the food I brought back for them to try. It was wonderful to meet up with her again in this cozy setting my brother had created in my father’s former office.
Now, I had one little task to do: pick out my own lamp. I had come to find light. With my vision loss, light is always a priority for me. Lately, it has seemed so dark in my bedroom. The overhead light placed in my bedroom when I was growing up doesn’t throw off much light. Even with a natural-light floor-length lamp behind my bed, I still didn’t have enough light to read. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to support Small Business Saturday and solve that problem.
“I need a small lamp,” I explained.
He picked up an interesting lamp with a burl–a growth–protruding from one side. It was so unique and the perfect size.
“How much do you want for it?” I asked, thinking there might be a family discount in store for me.
“You can have it, ” he said, waving away my money. “Look at it as an early Christmas present.”
I was all for that! I’ll be taking my friends there and / or buying his one-of-a-kind lamps for them in the future.
It was so good to see my brother in his element. He says, “What a joy it is to work with your hands and create things that bring you peace. ” He adds, “By the way, I’ve been told they look cool.”
That’s my brother, finally bridging the world of tree cutting to his passion of making rustic furniture. He even has his own planing machine to cut lumber. It’s easy to see his love for wood coming full circle.
It’s a tough job making a living as a tree cutter but as a second generation in the business, he says, “I have wood in my blood.” Making furniture has taught him to appreciate the various types of wood even more.
Dad would be proud of him and he sure would like the pieces my mother has at the house!
Whether you are looking for someone to trim your trees or a unique piece of furniture custom made, Don’s your man.
You can connect with him on the following links:
You have just read “Small Business Saturday: Rustic Furniture” by Amy L. Bovaird © December 2, 2015.
Have you ever had a hobby you have tried to turn into a business? Do you have an idea you’d like to try out? Share it in the Comments below!uB