Anyone who has met me at a farmers market has probably seen a sign I have out in front of the booth with the title "Honey, Whiskey, Beer & Furniture?" It always catches people's attention. A few want to know where the whiskey or beer are, but a great number of people have to find out how furniture fits into that combination. I tell them the last step in our Bee-cycle is when the barrels we use to age honey are sent to a local craftsman to be made into furniture. Almost everyone wants to know what kind of furniture gets made from the barrels and then they want to know where they can get it.
Well let me introduce you to Mike Jennings. Mike is a 20 year veteran of the Air Force, who went to work as a police officer in Alaska after he got out of the military. I pulled up to his shop, which his wife generously allows to be housed in the space most people call "the garage". Much like the Field of Dreams sitting in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, this garage is the place all used oak barrels want to end up when they die. And looking around, there were quite a few waiting to get into the game.
Mike said he goes through over a hundred barrels a year creating all kinds of things from small items like bottle openers to larger pieces like bars and backbar installations. There was a nice wine rack he was finishing for a client sitting outside the entrance to the business area of his shop. Barrel staves were lined up to be customized into serving trays and laser engraved wedding keepsakes. And he was working on some Valentine's Day wall hangings.
Mike is retired, but I'm pretty sure he's busier than when he was employed. He told me he uses the money he makes from all the barrel projects to fund his deep sea fishing habit. He likes to go down to Panama and Costa Rica to catch the big fish. He has his charter boat license, so he helps out part-time on a buddy's boat off the shores of Washington when he's not out of the country. And he likes to refurbish aluminum boats in his spare time. Out behind his shop was a pontoon boat he picked up cheap to refurbish and sell. After he enjoys it for a while, of course. All new seating with places under the cushions to hold plenty of beverage coolers. He told me he's planning on incorporating a fire pit on the pontoon boat as well. Now how many boats have you been on where you could make Smores?
Below is a gallery of just SOME of Mike's creations. He doesn't work off of woodworking plans, but said he can pretty much make anything if you can show him a picture of it. From big bar installations to laser engraved wedding boards, I think he can satisfy all your custom orders. If you'd like to get in touch with Mike to have him build something for you, you can send him an email at Cohohodesigns@gmail.com. We're happy to have Mike in the anchor position of our Bee-cycle process. "Honey, Whiskey, Beer & Furniture?" Furniture indeed!