Father's gift keeps on giving in Green Bank woodshop
Years ago, Wood County woodworker Ken Jones, III taught his young sons how to hammer a nail and saw a board. As the boys grew older, their father taught them more and more about woodworking, metalworking, carpentry and an appreciation for the gifts of nature.
When the boys were old enough, they went to work in their father's mill - peeling logs to make fence posts and railings for log homes.
In 1996, Ken Jones III, his wife Diana and their two boys, Matthew and Ken, moved to Pocahontas County and expanded the family business to construction of log buildings and furniture. The business got a big boost when Snowshoe Mountain contracted with Jones to make log signs for the resort.
In 2003, Jones and young Ken started construction of a two-story workshop on a hillside above Wesley Chapel Road. The father found a bargain on some 8x8 timbers - formerly part of a bridge - that became the building's main beams. The elder Jones cut pine logs for rafters and customized one of his machines to make tongue and groove siding. When the father and son finished the shop in 2005, it was a rock-solid testament to the father's woodworking and carpentry skills.
Shortly after completion, the workshop fell silent with the father's untimely death.
Ken Jones, now 28, and a respected carpenter and building contractor, recalled working with his father.
"We'd go up on the mountain and cut red spruce by hand and we carried it out on our shoulders," he said. "When we were young men, 12 or 13 years old, we would take it out on our shoulders and roll it up on two logs onto the back of the truck, take it to the peeler mill, and we would peel it, let it sit out in the sun for a week or two, let it season and crack, and then work it into a product."
Jones learned resourcefulness from his father.
"That's what he was so ingenious with - he could take nothing and make something out of it and make something beautiful," he said. "No man taught him what he did. He studied and researched all that on his own. He was very ingenious. He would make equipment and a lot of stuff to do different processes and things. What I picked up from him -- don't be afraid to try something and don't be afraid to do something because you never know what you'll be able to accomplish."
Jones converted the second floor of his father's workshop into an exquisite home for Diana, with exposed pine timbers and handmade cabinets. On the first floor, his father's woodshop remained idle, until a neighbor offered Ken some standing pine trees.
"I had somebody who said they had some dead standing white pine to give me and that sparked an interest. I had never thought about using dead standing white pine - but it's already seasoned - so all I had to do was cut it, load it into my truck and bring it here and hand hew it."
After getting the logs, Jones knew it was time to get woodchips flying again.
His father's woodworking machines were vintage when the boys learned how to use them -- now they were virtually museum pieces. But the younger Jones cleaned them up, oiled them up, tightened up the belts -- and turned on the power. With a little help, the old workhorses growled back to life.
"I just started putting everything back together and getting everything hooked up - putting the motors and belts back on and stuff," he said.
Jones is proud to take a resource that would be wasted and turn it into something beautiful.
"I'm using a resource that eventually would have just rotted if somebody didn't use it," he said. "People just keep supplying it to me. My neighbors and people are finding out that I need this type of wood and they don't mind it being removed from their property. It's environmentally sound. Very limited natural resources have to be used to remove it from the property and bring it to the shop here."
The woodworker feels his father's spirit when he works on the machines.
"I think it brings me closer to him," he said. "When you're down there, you feel close to somebody that had been in your life and taught you all this stuff. It brought me closer to my father. A lot of good memories and stuff and I think it really helps carry on his legacy. I think that's really neat - his legacy carried on through me. He continues to live on through the things that I do."
Jones' first offering is a queen-size bed and matching nightstand. The craftsman said furniture stores sell similar pieces that lack the handmade quality.
"You can get a bed like that from a factory. They cost you about $1,000 and that's something that's mass-produced and doesn't have the touch of being made in a small shop. It's a high quality product. It's something that I believe will last. You can pass it on from generation to generation."
In addition to bedroom furniture, Jones plans to produce a new line of items this spring, including A-frame swings, half-log benches, picnic tables, bar stools and custom-crafted products.
"The sky's the limit," he said. "I call my company Rustic Creations because you come with an idea you think you'd like made and we can work it up and make it a reality. Being an individual that's doing it, I have more time to spend with a customer than a big company that can't modify something for you made in a factory or a plant."
Log furniture doesn't have to look rustic.
"Depending on the customer, you can make a more contemporary look," he said. "You can put any kind of stain on it and you can give it a really smooth appearance if you want a more contemporary look.
Jones encourages parents to work with their children.
"I feel very fortunate," he said. "It was a lot of hard work when I was younger. I don't think there's anything wrong with young people getting out there and working with their parents - no matter what anybody says. It may not always be easy, out there in the field working, but you will learn something and, consequently, it will turn into something good.
"It's nice to be able to make something with your hands," he said. "It's nice to have the ability to be creative. I'm thankful that I was given the ability to do those type of things. It's a great gift and I think that you should use your gifts."
For prices and more information, call Ken Jones at 304-456-9911.