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Lockwood teen sees big success after starting his own woodworking business

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Posted at 7:58 PM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-20 21:58:50-05

LOCKWOOD — With a goal of eventually purchasing a car, 13-year-old Lockwood entrepreneur, Kane Aberle, saw success in his first six months crafting and selling art pieces cut from wood, making about $2,000 so far, Aberle said Saturday.

Aberle started woodworking after being inspired by his grandfather, who works as a carpenter in North Dakota, making things like tables and cabinets.

"I always was so interested and I just always watched him whenever I was over at his house. I started picking it up when I was about eight (years old), he actually started letting me use the scroll saw," Aberle said.

Now a bit older and with better equipment, Aberle started selling his beautifully crafted intarsia wood pieces in June and they were a hit with the community.

“At first, it was just kind of personal and for family, but I thought that I would start selling," Aberle said.

Aberle's dad, Aaron, let him set up a workshop in the family garage and was jokingly referred to as his son's secretary, helping to keep tabs on customers and their orders.

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Aaron Aberle and his son Kane pose with a winged motorcycle wheel woodworking piece Kane created earlier in the year.

The business venture started in June with a stand Aberle and his dad put up at the intersection of Johnson Lane and Old Hardin Road in Lockwood. Aberle even gained some repeat customers from the initial outing.

“We went and set up a booth for a few hours and I made about $400 and I got a few orders. After that, a month or two later, we were planning to go to the craft show at the Metra and then they canceled it because of COVID-19," Aberle said.

Undeterred by the craft show cancellation, Aberle and his dad moved onward in November, creating a Facebook post on a Billings buy and sell group that took off and ended up with nearly 200 likes and 25 comments.

"We had it up for about five minutes and we already had about 150 comments and orders all mixed around. Almost every time I went to go drop one off, they would want something else," Aberle said.

Aberle said that Facebook post helped bring in enough orders to keep him busy for the two months leading up to Christmas.

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Wood puzzles created by Kane Aberle.

Aberle works wood in a style called, intarsia. To create a piece, he first finds a pattern online that is glued to the piece of wood. Then he goes to the scroll saw, where the piece is cut out. Then the piece is sanded before it gets a coat of stain or lacquer to bring out the shine.

In intarsia woodworking, Aberle creates pieces that look like they should come apart, but don't. He also makes puzzles often in the shape of wild animals, which were some of the bigger hits as Christmas gifts this year.

Aberle can finish a less complex piece in about four hours. The longest part of the process is the sanding, because that's the step that adds realism to the work, Aberle said.

“You want to make it look as realistic as possible, like the tree on the panda, or the antlers on the deer, you just really want it to look as natural as possible," Aberle said.

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A panda sitting in a tree painstakingly sanded for realism by Kane Aberle.

With the orders piling on and the fact Aberle still had to balance time for his school work, he credited his dad for helping keep him on task.

"The biggest help I have is my dad, by far. Right now, he pushes me. Some nights I just don’t want to do it, but he pushes me to get stuff done and it really helps," Aberle said.

Aberle was often donated wood from his grandfather, but pays for all the other materials himself, Aberle said. He upgraded his scroll saw around the same time he started selling his work with the help of his dad who paid half of the price of the $500 saw, with Aberle paying the rest. Among the lessons learned from running his own business, Aberle said one was that you've got to work for what you have.

“Putting in work really does pay off. If you slouch around, like say you’re watching a movie. Do you gain anything from that? Not necessarily, but if you go out into the garage for half an hour, you can get a puzzle done and get $15 or $20 and I enjoy seeing people happy. That’s just one of the main reasons," Aberle said.

Another motivating factor to start the business was the goal of a new car, Aberle said. In two years, Aberle will be old enough to enroll in drivers education and eventually receive his drivers license. He wants to earn enough money to buy a car by then.

“For a while now, me and my dad were looking for a car for me to get and hopefully have some things we could fix up on it," Aberle said.

Aaron recently found a car for his son with a Cadillac sedan that needed interior and engine work, but still was a sweet ride for the soon-to-be driver. The pair are partway through the repairing the car now.

"(Dad) just recently bought a Cadillac, which it’s not in the best condition, but it’s still pretty good. We plan to fix up a few things on it, then once I’m 15 and I get my permit, I’ll eventually buy it from him," Aberle said.

Another important lesson was the one that comes with seeing your work come to fruition, especially on a more complex piece, Aberle said.

"With intarsias, I usually have lots of troubles. Once you get done with it it’s like, whew I’m done finally and you look at it and you’re like wow, this looks awesome," Aberle said.

With two months of straight work from his business and school, Aberle is in need of a break. He's still putting the finishing touches on a few commissioned pieces, but will then take a two-week break for school Christmas break, picking up work again after the new year.

“I’m getting two weeks off of school, so I’m going to take that and then get started back up. I’m just now finishing up with that post, but I am going to start taking orders after new years," Aberle said.

To keep up with Aberle's work and find what sort of pieces he creates, visit Kane's Krafts on Facebook by clicking here.

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A collection of some of the intarsia wood pieces that 13-year-old Kane Aberle created in 2020.