Last week I spent a delightful morning poking around the workshop of Michael McCord. I got to admire a recently commissioned project that was headed out for delivery that afternoon and see some of the planning process going into the one that was next on the docket. The walls of his shop act as a gallery of tests and example pieces that are also for sale, should something catch the eye of the beholder. The variety of wood he works with is mind-boggling and they are so stunningly beautiful. Some, I'd never even heard of before!
Pre-retirement Mike spent three decades with IBM working for the satisfaction of a signed contract or an “atta boy” at the end of the day. Post-retirement Mike now thrives off the satisfaction that comes from getting to hold a finished project in his hands that he can't wait to show off to his wife, bookkeeper, and biggest cheerleader: Gail.
For as long as he can remember, he's always enjoyed a good challenge. If there was a project that needed tackling, he was the man for the job. But despite that, and his long-held appreciation for intricate 3D carvings, it wasn't until after they purchased their fixer-upper here on the lake 12 years ago, that he first dabbled in the art of woodworking for himself.
A friend lent him a table saw to help out with the long list of home improvement projects they had underway. But as the house neared completion, consequently freeing up a bit more “fun-time”, he started trying his hand at making some simple projects such as tissue box covers and trivets. When the stay-at-home orders came in 2020, courtesy of COVID, he was handed the perfect opportunity to really hone his new-found craft and learn the ins and outs of some additional equipment he had started to collect. This included his right-hand-partner-in-creating-crime, an Axiom CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine that runs Vetric Aspire software. Thankfully, his background in computers gave him a bit of confidence as he ventured into the electronically-assisted world of wooden art.
Now, three years in, his business has blossomed as his beautiful portfolio of work and attention to detail speak for themselves. Mike is quick to say that his favorite part of this gig is collaborating with clients on meaningful, customized pieces. Sometimes people come to him with a very specific idea of what they are looking for, other times it's just a vague starting point. Regardless, he loves the creative process and producing a finished product that elicits joy (and sometimes, tears!) from the recipient.
One particularly notable product that he creates is, interestingly, not even made of wood! With the help of his CNC machine, he crafts durable, easy-to-read weatherproof address/identification signs for people to place on their docks. Not only do these help visiting friends to find you via water but may even help save your life one day if the rescue squad water boats are called to an emergency. We all know the importance of having a well-marked home, and around here, the same goes for our docks.
The span of projects he has tackled thus far range from full sized furniture to delicate wedding ring boxes. And if you have an idea for something he's never done before, all the better! The fun, for McCord, lies in the challenge. This second-career artisan truly believes that keeping active, both mind and body, is what leads to a vibrant life. And to be able to create meaningful pieces of art to go out into the community while you do it? I can't imagine much more satisfying than that!
If you're interested in commissioning your own project, you can reach Mike