Board, not bored
Kent Kuykendall, 55, is on his apartment's balcony in Forest Grove, using less than 50 square feet as his workshop.
On a late afternoon, he is sanding a newly finished cutting board for his business with a self-explanatory name, Balcony Boards.
Kuykendall has been a full-time electrician for the International Brotherhood of Electrician Worker's Union (IBEW) Local 48 for the past 30 years, and his first cutting board was made for his mother as a present, he said.
"This is over 25 years old," Kuykendall said. He held up the board, which looks practically brand new, and explains it is made from beech, walnut and cherry.
The boards, in all different sizes, are naturally colorful, with no stain added. All the hardwood is carefully selected, Kuykendall said. Each cutting board comes seasoned with Walrus Oil, a product with a food grade blend of coconut oil, mineral oil, vitamin E and beeswax. Each board takes about a day for Kuykendall to create with his attention to detail. Costs range from $15 for a set of coasters and $40 to $60 for cutting boards, depending on the size, Kuykendall said.
It wasn't until Kuykendall's daughter, Nina Bakken, asked him to make one for a friend that he considered making this business a reality, he said.
"I made her the board, and as she was walking down the hallway of her work in Seattle, people kept saying they wanted one," Kuykendall said. "She called me up the next day and she told me, 'Dad, I want you to know you got a business called Balcony Boards and I created you a Gmail and Facebook page.'"
Kuykendall visited his daughter in Seattle with 30 cutting boards soon after, sold all of them and had more on back order.
"I am beginning to go to people's homes and measuring their sinks for custom boards," he said. "A lot of people want it as art for their kitchen, but I want them to know it is functional art and you can chop on it."
With more than 50 cutting boards sold in just weeks, Balcony Boards recently became eligible as a vendor on Amazon Handmade, the retailer's online store specializing in items created by craftsmen around the world.
Not only will they soon be sold online, but he delivers to residents around town as well.
Kuykendall said he aims to work with other artists, including a local engraver who engraved a board with his business name on the front.
A budding business doesn't come without challenges, Kuykendall said. The largest obstacle? His balcony's space.
"I built a small area here, but it kept getting bigger and bigger," he said. "I made bins for all myself, and I made a spot for all the wood to lay. Now I can reach over and just grab."
Kuykendall works around his work schedule, often at night while trying to keep the noise level low. His landlord pays no mind, and Kuykendall is always chatting with his neighbors, who are supportive of Balcony Boards, he said.
"I've invited them to come check it out," he said. "We are all a nice community."
Kuykendall has lived in Forest Grove for over 30 years, where he raised three children along with his ex-wife. Not only does he have the support of friends, but his family is there rooting him on, he said.
"He would make cutting boards for people 15-plus years ago and they kept telling him to begin selling them," his daughter, Bakken, said. "It has been really cool to see him staying busy and passionate about this."
In the future, Kuykendall said he would love to begin working more on Balcony Boards and less as an electrician as more and more people find out about his craftsmenship, he said.
"People appreciating what you are doing — there is nothing better than that," Kuykendall said.
By Janae Easlon
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune971-762-1166
Follow Janae at @Janae_Easlon
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