GRAFTON, Ohio - The smell of sawdust permeates the shop. The shrill sound of a saw ripping through a piece of wood squeals in high pitch. The men of the wood are busy eyeballing their work.
They are the precision-minded workers at Elegant Wood Products. For 32 years, the company has been in Grafton, Ohio, but its reach has been throughout the region as homeowners have come to the woodworking company with orders for entryways, mantles, casings around windows, and many other needs.
"I was born with sawdust in my veins," said Richard Fishburn, owner of the company. He discovered he had a love of working with wood when he was a youngster. Various tradesmen helped teach him how to use tools and how to work the wood. So in love with wood, he became a high school industrial arts teacher, a job he held for many years until he retired from education.
However, he did not retire from woodworking. His company is busy with filling orders for clients who come to Elegant Wood Products looking for wood to be fashioned into bar rails for their wet bars in their family rooms.
"They're making some door jams and some casements for around a couple of doorways," said Dan Butler as he talked with John Kaiser, the sales manager who doubles as a woodworker. "I've always liked the grains of wood," said Kaiser. "I go through different phases," he added. "Sometimes I like walnut; sometimes I like hickory."
No matter the wood, the men at Elegant Wood Products turn our quality products. Most have been at it for many years. George Kazcmierczak was busy at a saw, cutting for an entryway for a customer in Westlake. Kazcmierczak was obviously in a zone as he worked on his project. Across the shop, Kaiser said most of the men get in a special zone as they work. They block out anything else going on around them and concentrate on their jobs. It is the old-fashioned way of working. Precise, too.
"I measure twice and cut once," laughed Kazcmieczak.
Fishburn likes that kind of attitude. He shares the thoughts with the five workers in his shop. Surrounded by wood, sawsdust, and the tools of the trade, Fishburn is very philosophical about his work. And about the wood. "The characteristics of wood are so different from one in the species to another in the species," he said, his eyes closed as if he were reading a script on the inside of his eyelids. With passion, he continued, "The wood is so fantastic and so beautiful, I just have to say, 'Wow, God!'"
All the while, the blade of a saw was cutting through a piece wood destined for someone's home. It would be several more hours before Elegant Wood Products in Grafton would close its doors for the night. But tomorrow, it would reopen and craftsmen would continue following the grain of the wood.