While in college at Kentucky State University, Patrick O’Connell worked for Harold Markey restoring furniture.
“I learned simple repairs,” Patrick said. “He was a great mentor.”
Although he pursued a career in information technology and currently serves as the director of the National Archery in the Schools Program, Patrick still has an interest in woodworking and picked it back up a couple of years ago.
“At any business job, you sit at a desk all day,” he said. “I wasn’t getting any exercise. I started doing crafts as gifts for friends. It was something to get me moving.”
Patrick specializes in repurposing bourbon barrels. With two barrels of bourbon aging for every Kentuckian Patrick said, there are plenty of used bourbon barrels available.
He purchases several barrel heads at a time and pallets of staves in Lawrenceburg and brings them back to his farm in Bald Knob to begin his creations.
He first has to allow time for the wood to fully dry.
“These have been soaking in bourbon for years,” he said. “I stack them and let them dry for months at a time.”
Then, Patrick scrapes the char off of the wood and sands it.
“I use up to three different sanders,” he said.
Then he seals the wood. He usually does batches at a time.
When the wood is ready, he goes to work building his products. He makes decorative barrel heads with family names or metal cutouts of the state of Kentucky on them. He turns some barrel heads into clocks.
He will also use the barrel heads to make serving trays, tables with hairpin legs or Lazy Susans. He recently began to make half barrel coolers that have been popular.
Out of the staves, he makes coat racks, coasters and more.
He also has begun to work with live wood. He made a wine rack and has other crafts in mind. From his friend Buff Bradley’s farm, he has gathered black fencing, discarded because of cribbing damage from the horses, and has used it to make candle holders and coat racks.
Patrick also enjoys making sentimental gifts for people.
“I’ll have people send me a picture of something and they ask if I can make it,” he said.
One woman asked if he could turn her father’s old ladder into something she could use and he made it into a plant stand.
One year for Christmas, he made barrel heads for his family members with their names printed on it.
“I don’t want this to turn into a job, I want it to remain a hobby,” he said.
Patrick only sells his crafts on his Cedar Ridge Farm — Woodworking Facebook page, @CRFWood, and at the Anderson County Farmers Market. Many of his products sell by word of mouth.
Patrick said he isn’t into crafting to make money, so he keeps his prices low and affordable.
“I do it for exercise, not to make money,” he said. “I charge for materials and for the cost of the tools.
“I just like getting in the shop.”