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If I Were A Carpenter

David Sutphen Design > Blog > If I Were A Carpenter

“The road to success is always under construction.”

Over 40 years ago, I lived in a small stone house on a beautiful farm in Long Green Valley. It had two rooms on each level that was built by the owner as a tenant house. The stone came from the fields and it sat a half-mile off the road.

I was fascinated that one man, with a helper, could build such a great house. At age 21, I decided I wanted to learn how to build. Today, you could just go to YouTube to watch a “how-to video” – but the 70s were a bit different. Fortunate for me, my brother in-law was a builder and always looking for help. I hired on in hopes of learning a trade that would one day allow me to build my own house.

My first month was not what I expected. I thought building meant hammers and nails – not shovels, mud, dirt and brooms. I didn’t know you had to work your way up to a “wall”. After a long day of digging footings I asked “when can I build?”

He replied, “So you want to be a carpenter?”

The next morning, when I grabbed a shovel, he handed me a list and said, “If you what to be on a wall, you’ll need this stuff” It was a list of basic hand tools but included things I had never heard of or knew how to use – scribes, stair gauges, low-angle plane, tri-square, and brace and bit.

When I got home I knew I needed a place to keep my new “toys” and decided to build a tool box. With pad and pencil and with my new tape measure I began to design my own toolbox. From the job site I found an old ½” plywood real estate sign (some of you may remember Moore-Matthews) and with other scraps and a piece of pipe ended up with my first toolbox.

I showed up Monday to jeers and heckles from the old-timers but felt they actually appreciated my effort. It was obvious I was green and my tools were shiny – but I was finally on a “wall”. What a day that was – little did I know that day was to be the humble origin of career as a home builder.

I wish I could say there was a master plan that I wrote that led me to create my own company. But as the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer once said – “The road to success is always under construction.”

My road began with the desire to learn, a willingness to start at the “footer” and a box of tools that has stood the test of time. And for this carpenter, a list of levels, pliers, squares, planes, bars, chisels, tapes, nail sets, hammers, snips…