Monday, April 19, 2010

April Profile: Barney Small, Woodworker, Cabinet maker

With no formal training in woodworking, other than his high school shop class, Barney Small is truly a self taught woodworker. Developing his skills mainly through trial and error over the years, Barney has always maintained woodworking as a hobby. He worked for Suit-Kote in Cortland, New York for a number of years as an asphalt grinding machine operator, helping with the rejuvenation of asphalt materials to be re-purposed for new roadways. After this, Barney owned and operated a trucking business for almost a decade, before retiring. Today Barney has returned to his love of woodworking and has unexpectedly created a new career for himself.

The very first wood piece that Barney made was a cherry hutch for his wife. This turned out so well that he began crafting other household furniture including desks and stand alone cabinetry. Barney would search through various catalogs for ideas, taking different elements and combining them together to create a unique style of his own; he refers to these as his "shake and bake" designs. Initially Barney enjoyed the challenge of creating his pieces without the use of prints, however, when he began building and designing kitchen cabinets, the complexity of the projects demanded that plans be drawn in advance.

In a way, Barney "stumbled" onto his cabinetry business. In the process of assisting his daughter in her home renovation, when the time came to revitalize the kitchen his daughter asked "well Dad, are you going to build the kitchen cabinets or should I buy them?" Barney pondered the question. He had never built kitchen cabinets before, and even admits that being a 'typical male', he had never really taken much notice of kitchen cabinets in the past. Intrigued by the idea, he examined his own cabinetry and concluded that compared with the other wood pieces he had created in the past, the cabinets didn't seem too difficult. He agreed to take on the challenge, drew up a set of prints, and created custom Red Oak cabinets for his daughters kitchen.

As the saying goes, the rest is history. Word began to spead that Barney was building kitchen cabinets and he started receiving inquiries. He now completes about 2 kitchen projects each year; enough to keep him busy with this new path and also allow him the freedom to enjoy his retirement. He currently works with a local designer who creates prints for his projects, which he then uses to calculate his material requirements and labor. Barney produces everything in his wood shop, which has graduated from his basement to a 700 square foot addition onto his garage.

Barney Small has proven that it's never too late to begin something new and we often find that life leads us down an unanticipated path when we least expect it!

If you are interested in speaking with Barney about a potential project, he may be reached at 607.334.9889