Isaiah Jalsevic: Furniture Maker

Photo Karen Graham.
Isaiah with his latest creations – a side table and a small knife.

Eleven-year old Isaiah Jalsevac is selling furniture he is building in his garage.  Don’t worry, his father John operates the power saw, but Isaiah does the rest.  On occasion he has been known to let a younger sibling help with the painting, but to be frank, he’d rather not.  He has standards…

Isaiah also as ideas, and make no mistake- they’re all his. This summer he wanted to start a business providing lawn care services in the neighbourhood.  His father John operated a similar business with his brothers growing up in Scarborough, so Isaiah thought he could follow suit.  At eleven, Isaiah is encouraged to cut the grass at his own home but his parents thought it was premature to let him loose on paying customers, so he moved on, for now.

It’s not like there’s a family tradition of building.  Isaiah’s father has built a kitchen table for the family home, but John’s interests lean more towards the academic: he’s a writer of poetry and philosophy.  He also teaches his children music.  Which makes the current situation all the more impressive: this father and son are exploring and developing interests that are outside the family’s comfort zone.

Back to the tables.  They are made of pine and based on designs from a website called Ana White.  It offers 58 pages of woodworking project designs running from beginner to advanced, all of which demonstrate an appeal to current aesthetics.  So far, table sales have come through word-of-mouth.  Isaiah has sold side and coffee tables for use both indoors and out.  He prefers the look of a combination of stain and paint, but when the customer speaks, he listens.  He’s a quick study.  He is currently analyzing his pricing algorithm to make sure it makes sense for both customer and producer.

Isaiah seems to be motivated to work, and to earn money.  He explains that he would like to purchase a forge, and that’s not a typo.  He has created a knife (in the photo) from a bicycle part.  With its curved, irregular blade, wooden handle and sheath, it looks like an antique.  He would like to create with metal.

After he acquires his forge, he says he might start saving for college.  Not that he has any specific plans, but he thinks it would be good to be prepared.  Another interpretation of this remark is that having cash will give him options.  He is light-years ahead of his peers.

This budding entrepreneur has recently established a Facebook page for his business, called Cutting Edge Custom Furniture, a take-off on the name of his father’s family grass-cutting business.  He plans to expand his offerings to include grass cutting when he receives permission, which might happen when he turns fourteen.

In the meantime, John would appreciate hearing from anyone with experience in the use of a forge.  It is a bit outside his wheelhouse but he wants to continue to encourage Isaiah to explore and develop his own interests, as long as everyone remains safe.  KG

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