It started out as a hobby, but Art and Jill McClure’s Fine Wood Products has evolved into a business for the couple. Their three children all helped make the line of pens, pencils, letter openers, candle holders, dinner bells, bottle stoppers, corkscrews and backscratchers all made from scrounged wood.
”We don’t buy wood,” Jill says. Every piece of wood in their garage workshop came from other woodworkers with scraps to give away. Jill and Art can fashion even small blocks of wood into something useful, like the aforementioned bottle stopper or the small spinning toys they make for kids. And most of the wood they use is local wood.
Jill says recycling wood was a main motivator when they were looking for a family hobby. A cabinet shop had opened in the neighborhood and was generating a lot of wood scraps.
”We wanted to come up with something to do with the scraps,” she says. And they did. The use of scraps became the hallmark of their woodworking style. People are always giving them scraps of woods, Jill says. Sometimes, she says, they have even worked pieces from their store of firewood scraps.
Art brought his high school woodshop experience to the project, and the business took off from there. He taught Jill to turn wood on a lathe and then their children learned their way around the woodshop as well. Their children are grown now but they are all crafters and continue to use the skills they learned at home.
In the beginning, the McClure family made things to give away as gifts, but around 2000, their production had grown to the point where it was time to get serious about marketing their products. Since then, they have added new products, like pocket watches and a pocket watch necklace. Jill has also branched out to other substances than wood. She makes a line of pens and pencils from Corian, an acrylic material used to make countertops. All their pens accept Cross refills and their pencils take .7 mm lead.
Jill also handles the details of presentation. This includes making the card-stock backings for the products, their business cards, and their brochures.
The wood turning takes place in the garage, as does the wood finishing. The finish they use is called French polish, and it’s a mixture of three finishing ingredients that bring out the texture of the wood. The assembling of the products takes place in the front room of their Redway home. Art and Jill spend their evenings assembling the parts of the pens, corkscrews and other items while watching television or a movie.
The McClures market their products both locally and in Eureka. Locally, the One Log House Espresso and Gifts in Piercy and the Drive-Thru Tree in Leggett carry their products. In the north, the Eureka Chamber of Commerce and the Clarke Museum sell McClure products. They are also included in the Pierson Building Center Humboldt County Christmas sale. And, of course, they are part of the annual Redway School Craft Fair. This fair takes place the same weekend as the Mateel Winter Arts Faire, and is a benefit for the Redway School PTA. The two fairs are within walking distance of each other and most people go to both.
They are also regulars at the annual College of the Redwoods Woodworking Fair.
This year, the McClures added a new venue to their schedule. They combined a Thanksgiving visit with their children in Oregon and a three-day craft fair north of the California border. They stayed with their children and the kids helped out at the sale.
Art and Jill make wood items on commission and replace knife handles and even chair legs. And they still use their skills to make presents for one another. For their son Michael’s wedding, they made a set of hand-turned wine goblets. When William gets married in August, they will make a set for him, too.