New generation takes on old craft photo

Jackson Haffner, left, and Thomas Reynolds in the workshop where they build furniture.

Most high school students fill their time with sports, clubs, homework, and preparing for SATs and college. Once they’re done with all their activities, including eating, showering and sleeping, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for anything else.

Two Scarsdale High School students, however, have carved out enough time in their busy schedules to start their own custom woodworking business that raises money for ovarian cancer research.

SHS senior Jackson Haffner and junior Thomas Reynolds both said they have always had a passion for building and tinkering. They got their start together three years ago, first by working on cars, and then when Reynolds was not allowed to hang things on his bedroom walls, the two built a desk on which he could hang a computer monitor. Since then, throughout their high school years, they have been the go-to “handymen” for others, always willing to help out whether something was wrong with a car or a bookshelf.

Haffner’s dad’s friend who happened to be a contractor helped the teens expand beyond building or fixing things for themselves and their friends to becoming a business. Not only did the family friend give them actual tools to work with, he gave the boys materials to create an epoxy river table, two pieces of wood on the sides and blue epoxy running down the middle of the table to mimic the look of a river flowing through the slabs. The pair watched Apoxie sculpting how-to videos for a couple of days, then got to work.

“One thing a lot of people we’ve worked with so far have really liked is the customizability we have and the dedication we put into it, and how passionate we are about our work,” said Haffner.

When they decided to launch the woodworking business, Haffner and Reynolds knew they needed something to set their venture apart.

Around the same time Reynolds’ grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer, which gave them the idea of donating proceeds to charity. For each item purchased from their workshop, they donate between $50 and $200, depending on how much money they spent on materials and the sale price of the finished piece.

“Something that makes us a little bit unusual is that you’ve probably never met a 17 or 18 year old who loved woodworking,” said Haffner. “It’s a very traditional, kind of old craft that has definitely been lost now, but we do it for the love of it.”

Despite the fact that they are both in high school, and each has the responsibilities of a high schooler, they find time every day to work on their projects.

“When you actually care about something, I don’t even think about it. It makes time for itself,” said Reynolds. “Junior year [brings] a lot of stress.”

But in the workshop, “You just turn on music, you turn on the saw, you physically can’t hear anything so you’re not thinking about much. It’s incredibly peaceful,” he said.

Although Haffner will be starting at Washington University in the fall, Reynolds plans to keep the business going. The pair said they will continue to work together during Haffner’s college breaks, picking up right where they left off.

To see their work and place an order, or to make a donation for their cause, go to buildacurefurniture.com.

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