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An Award-Winning Letter

“How I built a reputation that is now worth money to me as a builder”
A reprinted article from American Carpenter & Builder, July, 1912.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Jeff K. Burks for the tremendous effort he makes to discover, copy, and share these jewels! Years ago, Jeff introduced me and countless other carpenters to C Howard Walker’s seminal book, The Theory of Moldings. Here, Jeff provides us with a telescopic view of the past: timeless lessons that carpenters should heed today about building better business practices.

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11 Responses to “An Award-Winning Letter”

  1. alec milstein

    A jewel of wise words, truly. Even more valuable today than when they were written.

  2. Kreg mcmahon

    Thank you for posting this article very interesting to read and with high standards and principles.

  3. Kent Brobeck

    Gary, great read, thanks! Where has Jeff Burks been hiding? We need him back at JLC online forums. Always enjoyed his posts.

  4. Alan R Holbrook

    Wouldn’t be hard to extrapolate from this article to just about any trade, profession or endeavor. We could sure use it! The final sentence tells all.

  5. Mike Guertin

    Will the words we write about our craft today live a century on and hold those same timeless lessons? I hope the valuable ones (like the 1912 piece) do.

    This snippit of the past gives me pause to think that dispite the newfangled materials and tools we have at hand, the heart and soul of carpenters / builders hasn’t changed in all the years. It’s neat to think that someday – a hundred years from now – someone like Jeff will bring something written in our time about construction to our “Brother Builders” attentiion in that time.

    • Gary Katz

      So Mike,
      Which one of your Fine Homebuilding articles do you think people will be reading one hundred years from now? :0)

      • Mike Guertin

        I’m actually hoping the article I wrote for Kitchen Garden about cultivating rhubarb will live on. It starts with skipping school at 12 to join my mother on a tramp through the land my great grandparents farmed to locate a clump of rhubarb. We moved some root pieces to my parent’s home and then to mine 35 years later. Roots of rhubarb, roots of family, roots of fellow craftworkers – it all matters.

        • MechanismBusboy

          You can bet that what will be remembered more often will be the work we left behind… like maybe a duck in flight cut and woven in a shake shingled sidewall? Then again, maybe Fine Homebuilding will be collected and cherished as timeless resources with the same intensity as Fine Woodworking.

          Scott Mikal

  6. Kim Renfrow

    Upon reading this article I feel that carpenters /builders have not changed thru time. I started in much the same way 27 years ago as a carpenter with a dream of building projects that will stand the test of time with the right materials built on stable ground. I have enjoyed the trade by being blessed by building custom homes as I have progressed from carpenter projects to homes as my reputation grew. It truly requires a passion which provides the energy and ethics that builds your customer base over time. Now after the economy hase fallen at the age of 52 I have the blessing of being in the field phyically preforming the work that my original passion had started.This has been an energizing boost to the dreams that I had started with and share with young craftsmen as they grow in the industry. There can be no greater reward given than passion you apply. Kim Renfrow


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