William Terry, 36, who works as a marketing representative for E.J. Prescott in Gardiner full time, makes wooden cribbage boards at his home in Richmond for gifts and for sale. He’s also occasionally donated them for fundraisers.

Cribbage is a card game that dates back to 17th-century England for two or more players that uses a cribbage board with 121 holes for scorekeeping.

 

What is your side gig?

Making handmade unique custom cribbage boards.

 

Why do you do it? 

That’s a good question. It’s never something I have thought about, really. I enjoy it. I like the finished product, probably more than anybody else would, because I made it. I enjoy producing it. It started and evolved from gifts given to people. It just seems that people really appreciate something that’s handmade and that has a character to it. Even people that purchase a board from me and they gift it to somebody, even that holds a lot of value and a lot of weight. People seem to really enjoy that and appreciate that.

I made my first board on May 15, 2005. I was helping to prune a really large apple tree in Monmouth with a good friend of mine. I was in the tree about 20 feet up, hanging on, cutting this big dead branch out of it. I cut that branch by hand and when it fell, I looked at where I cut it off. It was just this pure, dark purplish hue apple wood. I just thought, “Wow. I  have to do something with that piece of wood. It’s just beautiful. ”

I don’t remember when, if it was an hour later or 24 hours later or 48 hours later. It clicked and I was like, “I’m going to make a cribbage board.” So I took my chain saw and I bucked that piece of wood up, and I spent hours and hours and hours with a sander because it was  cut up  with a chain saw. The Old Goat (pub) was in its first location in Richmond, and for whatever reason at the time, I decided I would make it for the Old Goat. So I cut the wood and did a square and put the Old Goat in it. You could set your deck of cards right on the board and you had room to play. I gave it to the owner, Scott. I did a deal with him: I would have a Guinness and bring in cribbage boards for a while.

Then I started making them for the Yankee Swap at Christmas. I would make a cribbage board and put it in there.

At first, I never poly-ed them I loved the wood. I just loved it how it was, loved to see it weather, like a hardwood floor. Then I started to poly some of them. But I was never in a real hurry, because I couldn’t just get a piece of dimensional lumber from Home Depot. I could, but I wouldn’t. So in my travels, I’d see a piece of wood and and say, “That would make a nice cribbage board,” and snag it up, but those would be few and far between. I went years without making them, with kids.

About four years ago, I was home for a couple days after minor surgery, and the doctor said I couldn’t do anything. So before I had that procedure, I got a bunch of wood sanded and ready to go, and I sat on the couch for two and a half days and I worked on cribbage boards. It kind of reignited my enjoyment of it.  It’s very relaxing, you know. It’s almost like therapy or something.

I got back into making them and sold a couple here and there, but mostly made them as gifts.

Since two years ago, I started to make a lot of them. It’s starting to morph a little bit. So many people said I needed a website or a Facebook page. So I created a Facebook page, 15TWO Custom Cribbage Boards. I am starting to sell them more. That board right there, that’s a $150 board. Somebody might say that’s a lot of money, and it is a lot of money, but I am getting only $10 an hour. What I have found is that generally the people who commit to buy it appreciate it. They like the handmade thing, whether they are gifting it or it’s for themselves.

(When I first started) I just had a cordless drill and it would take me a long time, and it was difficult because there was nothing to hang on the board and different kinds of wood are hard to drill. Some wood, it doesn’t want to drill good and it sticks in the drill bit and the drill bit doesn’t clean out and it burns and it smokes and sticks. So now I have the drill press, and I have a planer, and I am starting to get some wood from my friend Greg Zoulamis at Zoulamis Fine Woodworking. That helps a lot because some of it is already planed, so that’s helpful.

When I first started woodburning, I had two different styles of letters Kelly (Terry’s wife) had picked up for me that I could trace and put names on. Then I evolved in figuring out what I wanted to do and print it out on the computer. I would sit down with a wooden cutting board and cut the whole design out with an X-acto knife, then I would wood-burn it. Then I figured, why don’t I burn through through the paper? I thought it saved me time, but it didn’t give me clean lines. And if you weren’t careful, you’d burn the paper to the wood and you couldn’t tell. When I was prepping to poly, there would be a spot that doesn’t look right. Now I tape the design to the board, and cut it out with the exacto knife.

When I think about this evolving, I wouldn’t mind it evolving into selling more boards to pay off some credit card debt, to pay for my oil for the winter, to pay for my siding job. I’m fortunate, I have decent paying job, but maybe I can make some money because costs keep going up. I still enjoy it.

 

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