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Picture Perfect: County man enjoys retirement making frames

By Joseph Slacian

Chuck King has always had an interest in woodworking.

He has done almost all of the remodeling work at his rural Wabash home, including the building of a workshop, as well as an addition to the shop. He also enjoyed making lawn decorations for his home.

That all changed about 2003, when his mother asked him a favor: Please make frames for her so she could put pictures in them and give them to family members for Christmas presents.

About the same time, his father-in-law was a contractor remodeling houses a local farmer would buy and sell.

“He was in one house and they had barn wood on a few walls,” King said. “He was over here one night and asked, ‘You want any barn wood?’ I said I would take it. He said to come over and take a look at it and we’ll throw it in my truck.

“It still had nails in it. It was a good pile of barn wood, all natural. I brought it home and took all the nails out of it. At the same time my mom asked me about the pictures, so, OK, I’ll use some barn wood.”

King had his photo on display in his workshop. It shows him as a youngster, dressed as a cowboy, standing in front of the family tree. A piece of rope is in the center of the frame, adding some extra flair to the end product.

“I just enjoy making things with my hands. To see a finished project like those hardwood …,” he said, pointing to a display of various frames he’s made over the years. “I just enjoy wood to start with, then this came along.

“I was making odds and ends. I made my own building. I was making things for the yard. I made a little cradle, little, bitty kids’ chairs, and then I started (making frames) and all that went into storage.”

He occasionally sells his products at flea markets. He also does custom work for those who learn about his talent through word of mouth. He also does consignment work with Borders and Beyond in downtown Wabash.

“I keep pretty busy,” he said. “It’s all word of mouth. This year and most of last year I was doing something at least every three weeks. Sometimes, I’d be working on two or three projects at the same time.

King worked at Dorais Chevrolet, retiring after 3 ½ years ago after 50 years at the dealership. King designs his own frames, and enjoys working with a variety of woods. While he buys some of his wood, he also has wood given to him by people who know of his work.

King’s tools range from table saws and glass cutters, specialty nail guns and straps, and even an old frying pan.

“Every once in a while, when I cut 100-year-old barn wood, it still has the sap in it – yellow pine,” he said, explaining the need for the frying pan. “The sap gums up the blade. I lay the blade in there and I have a solution I put in to clean the blade.”
King and his wife, Marsha, have two daughters, Emily and Leigh who occasionally help in the workshop.

“It depends on if they’re making a project,” he said with a laugh. My youngest daughter is kind of an artist, so I cut some frames for her to help her out”

Posted on 2021 May 04