Spring Hill woodworker turns hobby into lucrative career


Spring Hill woodworker turns hobby into lucrative career

Since 1979 Chuck Brock has been working off and on as a furniture maker. What began as a very expensive hobby eventually became a substantial source of income.

Since 1979 Chuck Brock has been working off and on as a furniture maker. What began as a very expensive hobby eventually became a substantial source of income. His custom made rockers, which are expertly sculpted and made of the finest woods, sell for thousands of dollars.

More importantly for Brock, his craft has allowed him to pursue his artistic dreams and to see what he calls, “my authenticity.†That’s Brock’s term for his gift of creativity, a gift he says that he believes all people have in some measure.

“In making a great piece of furniture,†Brock said, “I always want to do the best work possible. When you do your best at anything, it brings tremendous value to your work. And that’s how you test your authenticity. When I take an interest in something [like woodworking], I want to test my gifts and use them until they become more authentic to God’s purpose. When people see a well-crafted piece of work, it should inspire them to get up off the couch and maybe think, ‘Hey, I could do a craft of my own. I could make things using my talent, my heart, and my hands.’ That’s using God’s gifts. And sometimes, as in my own case, it can even lead to something that could sustain a livelihood. That is my true main purpose with my art.â€

Brock came to Spring Hill several years ago after a long career as a school teacher and administrator in his hometown of Columbus, Ga. It’s a line of work that he shared with his wife, who has long supported her husband’s avid interest in making the perfect rocking chair.

Throughout the ‘80s, Brock honed his skills as a traditional woodworker, making all kinds of furniture. Making his living as an elementary schoolteacher, Brock’s passion for woodworking was a break-even enterprise at that time. He kept it alive by completing over 250 commissioned pieces in his home shop.

After 10 years of building, both Brock and his wife chose to pursue graduate degrees in school administration.

“School cost a pretty good bit, and so I decided to sell my shop stuff to help fund it,†Brock said. “And I was kind of out of [all woodworking] for about seven or eight years. But my wife knew how much I loved doing it.â€

Once husband and wife had each finished their degrees, the couple decided that it was time for Brock to resume his old craft.

“That’s when I went out and bought my shop equipment again,†Brock said. “She made me promise to leave half the garage available for the car, but my work in there always took up the whole space. I continued making rocking chairs in that garage until about five years ago.â€

An example of Chuck Brock’s work

That’s when Brock and his wife chose to come to Spring Hill, where their daughter was already living and working with her own family as a realtor. Brock loves living closer to his daughter, son-in-law and grandkids. And his interest in the art of woodworking has spread to the rest of his family. He admires the unique business atmosphere he finds in Middle Tennessee.

“There’s a different kind of capitalism here,†Brock said. “The entrepreneurial spirit in this area is exciting because typically people who move here are coming to work on their dreams. But in order to stick here, it’s often necessary to have several different kinds of dreams going. That’s different from Columbus, where I grew up. That is a town where the dominant dream is the desire to raise a family and just work a nine-to-five job. And that in itself is a wonderful dream to pursue. But those who come here, are often chasing an artistic dream. Spring Hill is a great piece of that, because it allows the same benefits of the Nashville spirit without the drawbacks of big city life.â€

The success of Brock’s woodworking venture, which includes not only his chairs, but also DVDs, web-cast episodes, and furniture pattern bundles, “would be impossible without the Internet. What people can do, and access online is spawning a rebirth of craft, very much including the art of fine woodworking. Of course, the pieces I create are necessarily expensive because so much time goes into making them. But the Internet kind of transcends that because of the way it spreads information for whoever might be interested in pursuing work of their own.â€

One of Brock’s favorite parts of his work is creating episodes of “The Highland Woodworkerâ€, the web TV program he hosts and co-produces with his son-in-law. The pair have created 13 episodes of the program so far, interviewing some of the most talented furniture makers and woodworkers in America. He began by interviewing Roy Underhill of the “Woodwright’s Shop†program on PBS.

One episode featured an interview with President Jimmy Carter, who is himself an avid woodworker and student of the craft. Brock’s intention for the program is to inform, entertain and inspire other woodworkers and the general public.

Since coming to Spring Hill, Brock continues to create new works of art as well as offering instructional courses from his shop on Campbell Station Parkway. In addition to his daughter, son-in-law and grandkids, Brock will soon welcome both his other daughter and his mother-in-law to town.

“The good thing about Spring Hill,†Brock said, “is that everything here is new. Because most of the people here are relocated, everybody is reaching out, in all kinds of ways. That’s real positive. This generation of young people in town are building the town’s traditions, and it’s a great place to be.â€

Staff writer Greg Jinkerson covers Spring Hill for BrentWord Communications. Contact him at greg@springhillhomepage.com.

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