J.C. Woodworking began in 1996 as furniture business and evolved over the next several years into a reclaimed wood and structures business. It was a love for both carpentry and history that initiated a business in which we built hand made furniture. I was passionate about history and couldn’t look at an antique piece of furniture without thinking about the man who made it with his hands, the tools he used, the farm he probably lived on. I was amazed at the time and effort that was put into building the necessities such as a dinner table for your family. I often felt (and have also been told) that I was born in the wrong century.
In 1996, I was offered the use of barn to use as a workshop in exchange for maintaining the property. At the time, Ricki was in school, our bills were low and although we were broke, I quit my job and we decided to go for it. I owned virtually no tools at all and borrowed money for the bare necessities: a table saw, radial arm saw and bandsaw. My first tables were made from cedar only because we had some dead cedar trees on our landlord’s property and money was an issue. Shortly thereafter, I came into a very small inheritance which I used to buy a small supply of antique wood and a few extra tools. I fell in love with antique wood and have never used anything else since that time. During this time, I was introduced to Eric Sloane books and began making my furniture with not only the materials, but also the methods of the 1800’s. Everything was cut by hand, I made trenails and pegged all of my furniture. On a cupboard or hutch, I would use only reclaimed wrought iron. Although the time to build a piece was tripled, my pieces were appreciated and over the course of the next several years, our business grew significanlty. We opened an antique store and were able to live a modest, but comfortable lifestyle from JCWoodworking alone. Eventually, ABC Home Furnishings in Manhattan sold our furniture exclusively and our work was featured in several magazines and movies. By now, we had three baby boys and Ricki ran the business from a home office. We would often laugh at the memories of a “Furniture for Sale” sign leaning on the outside of that barn/workshop and be both amazed and grateful that we stuck it out.
During this time, I would find the material for my furniture by going “on-site” to 1800’s dwellings and salvaging the wood. Although only a very small percentage of the wood in any structure was flat enough or straight enough to build furniture, it was beautiful to re-use as flooring. At the same time we were considering expanding the company into furniture and flooring, a prior customer called and asked if we could get him 1,000 feet of the same wood his table was made from in order to put a historically accurate addition on his home. That phone call answered our question and led us into a whole new part of our business. It did not take long until reclaimed materials was at least half of our business.
The best part of my job was going out to these beautiful, historical buildings and saving as much as I could. To me, being in a 200 year old barn or log home was like being at an amusement park. I loved everything about them. And then I came home with the idea that instead of salvaging the parts of the building, we should salvage the whole building. Again, it was not long after that consideration that we received a call from an old client asking for a small log home for his property. Almost instantly, we now had another facet to our company. We often say that our customers have molded this business into what it is today. But so far, we have not been led in a direction that we haven’t found exciting and loved doing.
Throughout all these years, and even back into childhood, I appreciated and collected anything old. Although our primary purpose was not to collect antiques when I was out looking at barns, it was in my blood and I couldn’t turn down a good offer on anything old….from a doorknob to a car. That “curse and blessing” has led us into our most recent adventure. Last year, we were approached by a production company looking to create a reality show about historic, abandoned buildings and the treasures within. In a search for companies that specialize in such things, they found us! Ricki thought the first email was a joke when they asked if we “know a lot about old buildings, antiques, love exploring, have a sense of adventure and a great sense of humor”. But it wasn’t a joke and we got the job! We filmed a pilot, which got picked up and we are now airing season one of “Abandoned” on National Geographic Channel. The show follows our sister business, Reclaimed Relics through amazing abandoned buildings throughout the country.
And, there is more….since we’ve started this adventure together, Ricki and I have had four children, all avid athletes. Like most kids, they love and wear name brand sportsgear everyday. By nature, and business, we are big proponents of anything made in America. Becoming frustrated at overpaying for sportsgear that was not made in American in conjunction with constantly seeing abandoned factories and mills forced to close their doors, we decided with the prodding of our kids to start our own sports clothing line, Battlesacts by 4CTF.
Although it is no longer just myself and Ricki, we are still a small, family operated business. We are personally involved in every aspect and detail of all of our businesses. We are blessed with an amazing group of people who work with us to make all of our jobs run smoothly. While JCWoodworking is still where it all starts and ends, it’s a great adventure to expand into the new adventures of Reclaimed Relics and 4CTF.
We are extremely grateful to everyone who surrounds us, especially our customers. We consider ourselves extremely blessed to be where we are…when Ricki and I met, we were broke, but not discouraged and would often spend our Saturdays going to flea markets and playing the “dollar game”. The object was to find the best deal for $1. We both agree that the game has been both fun and successful….and thank everyone who has helped us along the way!