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Michigan boy's woodworking pandemic hobby now a thriving business

Posted at 2:18 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 16:22:42-04

MILFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) -- Last year, in the middle of the pandemic, an 11-year-old boy in Milford, Michigan, was looking for something to do.

"I always liked building stuff, and I got bored one day and I just saw something online ... and thought, 'oh, I want to try to make that,'" said Nathan McConnell.

Nathan, who is now 12 years old, went to work, building a side table that his grandma requested, complete with a drawer.

Photos courtesy McConnell Family

"He was using whatever materials were here because I couldn't keep running into the store. So, yes, it wasn't very long, and he brings it in and that's when I was just like in awe that he built it," said Melissa, Nathan's mother.

Melissa put the picture of his work on a community Facebook page, and the reaction started pouring in.

"Everyone was like, 'oh, my god, can I have one? Can I get one like this?' And it just kept going on and on, and I was excited. And there was so many comments and it was just super nice of everyone," said Nathan.

And that pandemic hobby is now a business: Nathan's Woodworx LLC.

Nathan is making and selling all sorts of things, from cutting boards to flower boxes, on his company’s Facebook page, and the whole family is involved.

Photos courtesy McConnell Family

Photos courtesy McConnell Family

"He hired me. I get to do some stuff now. I mean, I did some before, but I'm not the greatest employee yet. I have a lot to learn. So I'm allowed to burn and sand and I do all his marketing," said Melissa.

Nathan has quite the talent, you can tell from the care he puts into every piece – and his knowledge.

"There are so many different species of wood and grains and stuff like that. And it's just fun working with wood," said Nathan.

Working on the family farm, Nathan has learned building skills under his father, and his mother who always has an eye to repurpose.

Photos courtesy McConnell Family

"I took them to a lot of antique stores, things like that, and we'd find old things and we would repurpose them. So I think when he goes to those places, he would see, 'oh, my gosh, mom, look at that board, I can make that,' or 'mom, look at that, I could make that.' And it was true, he could. Little did I know that he would and that it would turn into something like this," said Melissa.

His love for tools and the things he can make with them continues to grow.

"The other day, I had to stop working for a little while to go pick up a scroll saw that he insisted he needed to have it ... he's acquired a lot of tools, just a couple he's not allowed to use by himself, that's all because they are very dangerous," she said.

Nathan said the goal is to make unique items that stand out.

"I always watch woodworking ... eventually I want to make something that someone hasn't made before," he said.

Photos courtesy McConnell Family

And what started as boredom, has led to a passion that’s fueled Nathan to create.

Nathan said he is taking his show on the road, selling his pieces later this month at a local farmers market.

With his entrepreneurial spirit and talent, we can’t wait to see what’s to come.

This story originally reported by Alexandra Bahou on WXYZ.com.