By Lee Noles
MONROE – Walking into the Lazy Craftsman is like walking into a woodworker’s paradise.
Buzz saws, planers and sanders abound through the building; tools hang from the side of walls; and blocks of wood stretch from one side to another in an adjacent room directly behind the shop.
Don Wilburn created the building as a place for craftsmen to get together, work on their trade and talk shop. However, the building means more to shop regular James Warr.
“To me, it’s heaven,” said Warr, who hopes to turn a passion for woodworking into a business of selling an assortment of handmade board games, tables and door chimes.
“It’s the only thing that can occupy my mind,” Warr said. “I enjoy it. I recommend anyone who wants to get into it should because it can be rewarding and relaxing.”
The woodworking bug bit Warr after he took a wood-shop class in middle school almost 40 years ago. He enjoyed it, but cars pulled him away for one simple reason.
“Girls,” Warr said. “Girls liked cars more than chairs.”
He made a career in automobiles and still helps fix ATVs and four wheelers. Woodworking never really went away, though, and Warr dabbled in it for a time, helping frame furniture for a friend’s upholstery business.
Still, he wanted more and got the chance when Wilburn, who is also Warr’s brother-in-law, invited him to the Lazy Craftsman a little more than a year ago. Warr, however, was hesitant.
“It wasn’t my place, and I hadn’t done it in years, and I didn’t want to mess up anything,” he said.
Wilburn finally got Warr involved by challenging him to replicate a board game the two had seen online.
“All of that was trying to get me to do something I didn’t want to do,” Warr said. “But I take challenges.”
Warr hasn’t stopped. He uses a process that begins with him getting wood from surrounding paper mills or a local wood crafting store.
“It’s a Toy-R-Us for men,” Warr said of the store.
Warr prefers harder woods because of their tougher texture and darker colors. He pushes the wood through a planer to smooth the long grain out and take away any of the rough sections. After smoothing out the edges, Warr uses a table saw to cut the wood to the size he wants. He sands down the larger pieces with a machine and cuts smaller pieces by hand.
Warr then uses a biscuit, a football shape piece of wood, to join the different sections of the board game together. He first cuts into the wood, then glues the biscuit into the newly formed groove before placing the other section on to the biscuit. He then stains and paints the board an array of colors.
The process has somewhat of a trial-and-error format. Warr recalls one of the first times he attempted to make a checkerboard. He cut out each individual square and stacked them. When he pieced them together, he noticed gaps were starting to form. Always a problem-solver, Warr decided to create each individual row with alternating wood before piecing them all together.
“No more praying and cussing,” Warr said. “They all fit together nicely now.”
In addition to checkerboards, Warr also creates triangle marbles and Tic-Tac-Toe. Just recently, he got into creating marble top tables by completing three varied pieces that took about 60 hours to make.
“You may have to make a new jig or try a new joiner system, but it’s all the same,” Warr said.
Warr’s inspiration comes from an assortment of places. He uses pictures he finds in magazines or online for ideas. Nature also plays a part, with Warr incorporating brighter colors when he is creating a piece in spring or summer and darker colors for fall or winter.
Not only has Wilburn given Warr a place to perfect his craft, he also gave him the name the Lazy Craftsman to use as his start-up business. The name is pretty straightforward.
“We’re lazy,” Warr said jokingly of the group that comes to the shop to practice their woodworking hobby. “We do a little work, shoot the breeze and do a little more work.”
Warr isn’t lazy about his business. His wife, Tammy, is in the process of developing a Facebook page. He bought the domain rights to www.lazycraftsman.com, and hopes to have it running over the next month. Warr also is selling his game boards at 47K Marketplace in Monroe. He has learned a lot in the past year since starting woodworking, but one of the biggest lessons has been perseverance.
“If you want to do something bad enough, you can do it,” Warr said. “The more you do it, the more you learn and the more you learn you can do things.”
Want to learn more?
You can call James Warr at 846-426-7949 or email him at email@example.com.