Thanks, Nathan, for this incredibly inspiring guest post! Keep on rockin’, brother!
The summer of 2012, I was noticing that I was spending a lot of time watching T.V…
I was gaining weight and my clothes were starting to get tight on me. I always said I would love to find a way to make money doing something on the side that I enjoyed, I just didn’t know what to do. So I turned off my cable, we kept the internet for the boys and we hooked our T.V. up to the net.
Got a Netflix subscription and found out how to watch the T.V. shows we really liked through the Internet. So problem #1 solved, T.V. was not a main source of entertainment. We were watching T.V. in the sum of around 100 hrs a week.
So now I had extra time to devote to something.
I have a carport in my home rather than a garage. It is too small to actually park a car in without banging the car door against the wall. So I usually used this area for storage. It is like being outside, but with a roof. So I had some tools, saws, drill, etc… I had found pallets, for free. So I stripped them down and found myself purchasing a planner, a used one at $50.
So I ran the pallet wood through the planner and it was like new virgin wood. I started with building Yard lighthouses, these were approx 2 feet tall and the lights are solar and just drop into the top of the light house. So each year, a person can go to a local Walmart or Lowes and find a new yardlight and place it in the lighthouse. These are great for flowerbeds, decks, porch, etc…
So, the more time I spent in the shop, the more I wanted to try and build. I have built, by hand, a few boats.
I really enjoyed finding a way to make things that were just unique. I found I love to work with CEDAR. It is easy to cut and carve and has a beautiful patina to it. I also started engineering simple wooden toys, my over head was next to nothing and the wood I was purchasing was dirt cheep if not free. I then started wanting to make circular things, like wheels. Through trial and error, I found myself successful and started making little wooden cars.
This also led me to making small airplanes, and this was a great experience to engineer. I was taking a lost art form and teaching myself. It was a huge learning curve but I found a way.
So, by this time, I was full swing into owning my own business and I loved it.
I attempted selling my products on Etsy.com, with no success. But found going to a local farmers’ market was my best platform to sell my hand made products. I had no competition, because what I was making was unique to me. My wife and I as well began working the shop together, so this meant quality time with my spouse and little to no T.V. I began losing weight, feeling healthier and feeling amazing.
I had a drive, a passion for something and no one telling me how or when to work to achieve this.
This in turn brought me to wanting to challenge myself more. I began building Cedar chest, large, medium to small enough to fit on top a small dresser.
This also brought me to doing personal orders for people. I began to work with painting and paint brushes. It was definitely not my finest hour, LOL. But as time went on, I became better at it and had many pleased customers.
Again I found myself challenged by peoples’ requests, sometimes I hit it out of the park and sometimes I fell short. But I was happy doing the work. One of the more elaborate pieces was a baseball-themed lamp, the man wanted the lamp shade to be made outta wood. 6 weeks, and a little imagination, and wow, it was truly a work of art.
By this time, I was having to make my toys in bulk, just to keep inventory up. I had good days at Market and not so good. But I was my own boss and I so enjoyed making something outta nothing, or taking wood that some would call scraps and making something cool and beautiful out of it.
By this time I was staring to get an knack for what people wanted to see. I built birdhouses for the spring. Crosses for memorial day. Painted my cars with stars and strips for Independence day, etc….
So then I realized, during football season, people loved to see mascots on things. So I began more wood-burning and painting on my pieces.
Now during this time I also wanted to learn how to turn wood. So again, I bought the machine, called a Lathe, and trial and error and then success.
So, I was hooked again, I loved to turn wood and this was a specialty.
Markets also were a great place to meet interesting people and we made some awesome friends. I was happier with my life than I had been for awhile. People wound come to Markets just to see what I was working on that was new. I was never just hung up on one item.
I was, again, always challenging myself to do something I hadn’t done.
So again, I found a challenge. I wanted to see if I could make a long stem pipe. Like Gandolf from Lord of The Rings. I found out only 3 people in the world make quality CHURCHWARDEN pipes, by hand and I was among the three. I worked many nights with no sleep to engineer and find a way to make the long stem and then bend the wood so it would have a unique look. I also tried many different woods with this. My wife and I again, spending more and more time together and our marriage becoming stronger. We both were in better health than ever and our marriage was strong. There was no down size to this.
I’ve made many different things, from Duck Calls, to a true innovative OUTHOUSE, LOL.
This lead me to carving. I am not the best at it. But I continue to try again with trial and error. But with anything practice makes perfect.
So, I found myself NOT buying things I could build or fix. My son Tate, drummer for the band .357, we bought him a new drum set in 2016. I took two of his old black drums off his old drum set. Stripped down the finish to the wood, and matched the stain and refinished the drums. One can not tell which is original and which is finished.
My latest project was building a church altar for my father. He asked me to build it for a new church starting and it meant a lot to him, I could tell from our conversation. So my father helped me with buying the material and otherwise, I built it for free. It was a task for sure, but very rewarding.
Again, I have refinished furniture, put my own spin on it. Like this Razorback, bedside dresser.
And as well, making something as small as guitar Picks.
So, yes it has been a wild, crazy journey.
And I love every step of the way. I am in great health, my marriage is stronger than ever and I and my wife have found a renewed passion for one another. When I do sit down to watch T.V. now, it is just to watch a movie, no commercials and only for a couple hours. I have found between, my job, our wood business and our children’s music, which is a story within itself.
We are more busy now than we have ever been. But we live life on our terms. And we found a way to make income from a low overhead. Over the years, we have acquired better tools and more sophisticated machines to make better products.
A lost art and I was eager enough to figure out what I needed to know to get started and challenge myself to continue with it. Its not always easy to get up after I have worked all day and come home, change clothes and go to the shop. But always, when I push myself to do it, I am truly happy I did.
My wife and I have helped many people do the same thing. We help them find something that interest them and then we give them a game plan to get started and as always, we are a phone call away to assist in anyway we can.
So for now I do work as a nurse full time, but more to provide Health insurance.
I am not wealthy as far as monetary value is concerned, but I am rich in joy, love and family.
So, for anyone who is where I was, thinking, if only I knew what to do, I would do it.
I know there is something, or someway to make a true living doing something I love and am passionate about. First, it takes a step in any direction. Sure I have had failures during this process, but diligence, not taking NO for an answer. Stepping outside my comfort zone, and reaching for the stars. Even if they are covered in saw dust, LOL, they are still stars.
Never stop dreaming, never just become content.
Once you achieve a goal, find a new one and reach for success in it. We all have intelligence, we just have to STOP being zombies and zoning out to T.V. and video games, The Internet, etc….and get up and take a step, take it any direction you wish, and start your journey today.
The only person stopping you is you.
Stop being a sheep or cattle, and just going through the motions and following the crowd.
Make your own path and embark upon a new life and an adventure. You never know where it will take you, or the people you will meet, or the places it take you to, the foods and smells it will bring. But either way, it is LIVING LIFE.
Life is too short to waste another minute. We all have an expiration date on us, given to us from birth. We know not when it is, but we know its there.
So don’t waste one moment of it.
My family is stronger because of my taking a chance and seeking something better for myself and them.
My marriage is strong and intimate, like it should be. My wife is my best friend, business partner, lover, confidant, my strength when I’m weak, and my safety net when I step out on the edge. This came from just trying.
I started out with a miter box saw, a skill saw, a drill, a palm sander, and just imagination.
So, I know if you have read this and looked at all the pictures, you’re saying, wow, I wish I knew how to do something like that. Well remember, I am self taught.
I took no classes and hold no degree in woodworking or craftsmanship.
Trial and Error, and determination.
So stop being a ZOMBIE in front of a T.V. or a computer screen.
Seize the moment and your family as well. I wish you best of luck on your endeavors and Godspeed.
A true story,
Nathan Ward, Arkansas, USA