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892 posts in 1492 days

Location: Grayslake, IL.
Website: Reed's Woodworking on Facebook

Summer 1972

I began my apprenticeship at 14 yrs. old with master carpenter, Alan Melhiser during the summers in Austin Texas.

I learned many things like building cabinets on the jobsite, conventional stick framing and custom trim work.

He patiently showed me by example and with a kind voice how to have a strong work ethic.

I remember learning to use a Stanley back saw miter box (no cord) and eventually we upgraded to a PC miter box with a sacrificial wooden table.

We had a Rockwell 4" jointer and a 9" table saw with a tilt top, aluminum PC #315 skill saws - no carbide blades yet, Yankee screwdrivers, Stanley 9 1/2 and 60 1/2 block planes, Starret squares and plumb bobs.

Also, Velander mahogany levels, Disston 6 and 12 point hand saws, Blue Grass wood handled hammers with bees wax in a hole in the end for the 6 and 8 penny common trim nails - so the trim wouldn't split from nailing it by hand.

Woodworking came naturally to me. I was a student shop teacher and I went to a Furniture, Cabinet and Mill-work trade school after High school.

My Grandfather was an inventor and opened my eyes to what you can do with minimal tools and a great idea. My mother is an artist and was very inspirational. I remember working on many projects around the house and in the garden together.

1980 - After a short tour in the Navy on the aircraft carrier, Enterprise, I moved to Lake Forest Illinois, met a girl, got married and started a remodeling business:

Reed Builders Inc.

I went to the Lake County college at night to study Architecture, Construction Tech., Microsoft Office and QuickBooks pro, Real Estate Practice and Small Business Management.

In the early years I also followed opportunity to work with prominent north shore contractors such as Traditional Concepts, Page Builders and Chicago's oldest union cabinet shop, Dettmers.

They offered a way for me to work on larger projects and learn many things about the Union way, high end project management and office politics.

But I always maintained my remodeling/cabinetry business which kept me busy on weekends and in between projects. I was never out of work.

We avoided huge overhead costs with our in home office and a small cabinet shop. We stayed manageable with only 4 - 8 men until the downturn.

Now, the crew are all sub contractors, some we've known for over 26 years.

I have been fortunate to work mostly in Lake Forest and Lake bluff IL, one of the wealthiest towns in America. The people here are very nice and appreciate good quality work.

Most of my clients know each other. I prefer to work with references only but enjoy meeting new people to see if we are a good fit.

We were mostly a kitchen and bath remodeler in the last few years.

We handled everything including design service and 3D drawings. We provided and installed Plato Cabinetry or we could build custom built ins such as: paneled libraries, mantles, home theaters, wine rooms, organizer closets and pantries for clients and Architects.

We also did complete house gut and remodels, historic restorations, timber frame additions, furniture repairs, shade arbors and multi level decks.

Sad that I had to edit this ......

I guess, it looks like I'm semi retired now. I can finally finish my own house.

Plus, I have about 20 or 30 past clients that I take care of now.

Mostly small stuff: Hardware and furniture repairs, jewelry boxes and gifts, fireplace mantles and custom cabinetry, whatever I can do myself.

But, I like doing this. Much less stressful, that's for sure.

Life is good.


Me personally?

Sorry, but I believe I Have paid it forward ...... You guys are on your own.

Our immortality lies in the knowledge we leave behind.
Our mark in the world lives on in the things we create.

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.

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17 comments so far

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 2590 days

#1 posted 01-28-2011 05:59 AM

Welcome to Lumberjocks. The projects are an inspiration, the information is priceless and the people are supportive. The only problem is, the site can get addictive.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View SnowyRiver's profile


51451 posts in 2297 days

#2 posted 01-28-2011 06:08 AM

Welcome aboard. Nice that you could join us on Lumberjocks.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View surfin2's profile


51276 posts in 1952 days

#3 posted 01-28-2011 06:17 AM

Welcome To LumberJocks, Good Luck…

-- Rick

View Splinterman's profile


23057 posts in 2178 days

#4 posted 01-28-2011 06:49 AM

“WELCOME to LJ’s” …Enjoy the experience.

View reedwood's profile


892 posts in 1492 days

#5 posted 01-28-2011 05:14 PM

Hi everybody,
Mark here. Thanks for the hearty welcome! I have enjoyed this reading this site so far.

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.

View Max's profile


55979 posts in 3089 days

#6 posted 01-28-2011 07:07 PM

Glad to see that you have made LumberJocks a part of your Woodworking experience… Welcome

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View woodzy's profile


416 posts in 1495 days

#7 posted 01-29-2011 04:26 PM

Welcome, i typically leave the hello’s to the friendly welcome wagon, but your stoy is interesting. Your toolbox has me interested in any futurre project you post. Thanks.

-- Anthony

View Chris's profile


27 posts in 1666 days

#8 posted 01-30-2011 04:41 PM

Welcome from a fellow contractor just to your north.
You have a great business philosophy and looking at your work so far I think you will be a great asset to this site. I cant wait to see more.

-- Chris, Hubertus, WI

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 2489 days

#9 posted 01-30-2011 10:36 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks!

View Rogue's profile


260 posts in 2286 days

#10 posted 01-31-2011 07:14 PM

Hey new buddy! The fishtack stand is made out of hard maple that I milled on my sawmill and a few pieces of maple ply. The bends for the front a laminate bends. I look forward to seeing yours be sure to put it up on LJ.

-- Rogue

View Ryan Bruzan's profile

Ryan Bruzan

148 posts in 1711 days

#11 posted 02-01-2011 02:03 PM

That’s very inspiring. There is a tremendous difference between those who just play the game and those who have the game and its players at heart.

-- No matter how many factors go into thinking about a project, there is always one important new discovery to be made.

View ShopTinker's profile


881 posts in 1585 days

#12 posted 02-02-2011 06:35 AM

Welcome to LJ. This is best place on the net to share and learn from a great bunch of friendly, talented, helpful woodworkers. I’ll warn you, it’s very addictive.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View Tom Pritchard's profile

Tom Pritchard

115 posts in 1508 days

#13 posted 02-11-2011 06:24 PM

Very beautiful finish and fantastic job. Next time I sell a stackable washer and dryer set at Lowe’s I’ll suggest they look to see what you have done.

Tom from Madison, Indiana (SE Indiana)

-- Tom in Madison, Indiana

View BTKS's profile


1971 posts in 2281 days

#14 posted 02-12-2011 09:43 PM

Welcome to LJ’s. I look forward to seeing more of your craftsmanship.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Dustin's profile


389 posts in 2266 days

#15 posted 02-14-2011 03:36 AM

I admire your work quite a bit. You’re very talented and knowledgeable.

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

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