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Canora man picks up profitable pandemic hobby

Like many of us, Kerry Trask of Canora has been feeling the drag of the pandemic.

Like many of us, Kerry Trask of Canora has been feeling the drag of the pandemic. Despite keeping busy with a full-time job in agricultural sales, a position on Canora’s town council, and the duties of being a husband to Norma and father to Methyl and Liam, Trask felt the need to get working with his hands.

His story goes back to the years of 2001 to 2003, when Trask was working at a lumberyard in Spiritwood. At that time, his job required him to become familiar with handling wood and using power tools. He would often have to take rough or crooked lumber and transform it into pieces that would ultimately impress customers and sell for a premium price. The skills garnered from this practice would lead him to the current hobby he enjoys doing in his spare time, on evenings and weekends. From his garage, Trask is once again working with lumber – this time, turning it into custom built home and garden stands that he delivers to greenhouses and sells online.

The stands, which take between four and five hours to complete, consist of a number of rack-style shelves. Each individual piece of a complete shelving unit has been measured, cut, assembled, sanded, and painted or stained. According to Trask, the process is a labour of love that takes his mind off pandemic stress and helps keep him active.

In order to finish a stand, Trask has invested in a number of tools to accommodate his growing hobby. A cordless drill, a self-tapping pocket screw kit, a cordless hand sander, painters caulking, paint or stain, a jointer, a planer, a chop saw, a mitre saw, and a skill saw are just some of the tools and supplies Trask has invested in to bring his visions to completion. He hopes to eventually add a vacuum system to control sawdust levels and insulate his garage so he can enjoy his hobby year-round.

Eleven year-old Liam Trask also enjoys spending time in the garage with his dad who said he is showing a remarkable talent for woodworking at his tender age. Liam has recently impressed his dad by building both a shelf unit and bird house almost entirely on his own while hanging out with his dad in the shop. While spending time in the garage, Trask says Liam is learning how to handle wood and tools, and practice shop safety. Trask will be taking some of his work to sell at local farmer’s markets where he proudly plans to include some of Liam’s projects for sale as well.

As the price of lumber soars, one would think working with wood would be a draining pursuit. However, Trask says his relationship with a local miller gives him access to premium quality lumber at a significantly more reasonable rate than lumber yards. He is careful to protect the identity of his source.

Prices for finished units run between $150 and $225, depending on size. To date, Trask estimates he has built over 150 of them. He transports a steady supply to greenhouses in Humboldt, Indian Head and Yorkton. The garden businesses then resell them to customers looking for clever ways to display collections of potted plants. Trask says his next step is to purchase a small enclosed trailer to deliver his upcoming orders to more locations around the province.

In addition to greenhouses, individual sales come through Facebook and Kijiji postings, or word-of-mouth. In addition to plants and herbs, the shelving units have also been used to organize and display other collections – like model cars, pottery, shoe racks, canned goods, and pantry items.

Trask said above all else, he simply enjoys building quality stands with custom designs and colours. He shared that he is looking forward to researching some new designs online that he can try out next to diversify his portfolio.

Trask says his most ambitious woodworking project to date was building a wooden garden gazebo in honour of his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.