It’s been nine years since John and Lynne Hogg set up a woodworking business in Shoal Lake, and while many things remain the same, there have been some interesting changes along the way.
Although the mainstay of C & J Wood Works has been just that — whether it’s creating something new, refinishing a treasure or doing a little repair work — the business has expanded to offer upholstery and restoration. They can even replace a zipper in heavy material.
“We enjoy working with our customers, bringing something old or an antique back to life or designing from scratch,” said John. “Presently we are working on a treasured heirloom (rocking chair) once thought of being thrown out, only to remain in the family.”
While helping to repurpose and refresh items from the past is a natural fit for a woodworking outfit, another popular aspect of C & J Wood Works is the creation of game boards.
“From a specialty standpoint, game boards such as Aggravation or Rummoli have been among crafted items to stand out as popular sellers,” said John, adding that outdoor furniture is another big draw.
Craftsmanship doesn’t occur overnight, though, said Lynne, a retired nurse.
“Some basic training from the outset has been beneficial, however, we have come to learn experience is the best teacher.”
Part of that experience is being passed on to the next generation. John and Lynne consider themselves fortunate to get a helping hand from their grandson, Chris, when he is home from his job at the potash mine in Rocanville, Sask.
“It’s safe to say Chris truly has a knack for working with wood,” said John, adding that Chris prefers working on a larger scale. “While a table on display made by him while attending Assiniboine Community College in Brandon gained praise, as a carpenter he would rather be focusing on a large-scale project such as a house.”
The Hoggs have also enjoyed collaborating with a fellow Shoal Lake business, Allen’s Machine Works & Steel Art Silhouettes. A number of pieces have been created using a unique mix of wood and metal. John also finds inspiration at auction sales, where a piece of furniture may catch his eye. Using his skills, John breathes new life into the pieces, which he then sells to a new home.
Looking back, it’s interesting to see how one thing leads to another. Lynne said the idea of starting the business came about partly because a suitable space was available at just the right time.
“The availability of the building spurred on the idea of a woodworking business,” she said.
As a retired teacher who also made a living off the land southeast of the community, John was ready to turn a retirement hobby into something more.
The size of the former grocery store, which now houses C & J Wood Works, allows space for both production and display. Business is drawn from the Shoal Lake area, but also across the province and Canada. C & J’s craftsmanship of toys, household and recreational wooden pieces is regular fare at local craft sales.