Nathan…The CutsUP Guy*
My name is Nathan Alston, and I am someone who's held onto a love with woodworking ever since the days of my early youth. My father was the one who ignited the flame of my interest in woodworking. Though he never adopted the classification of a carpenter and, in fact, owned just a couple pieces of basic hand tools, he was considerably talented, and worked magic with the little that he did have. My earliest recollection was when my father would sit down with my brother, and I, and we would glue model cars, planes, and a sixteen-mule wagon team together. It was often that we did so, and my father decided to make large, lighted display cases for them. Even today, I look at them with amazement on how he achieved what he had intended.
Since then, I had dabbled in woodworking with that same meager tool kit, and the flames of interest continued to grow, with limitless expansion. Over the years I had acquired some more tools, and devoted myself towards constant learning processes, and the honing of my skills. For me, woodworking is not just a means by which to earn some additional income, but holds much in the sense of therapeutic benefits. Also, due to my lower back disability (which prevents me, now, from working a conventional job) I can feel gainfully employed by what I do, in my little one-man shop. I can work as I want; when I want; and how I want. When those times arise when my back issue is getting the best of me, I can put things on hold, and step away until I'm feeling better. That could not be done when trying to hold down a regular job.
I am blessed to have been granted the opportunity to start my own little woodworking business, and the feeling of being productive is beyond anything that I could say. Have there been challenges encountered? Yes, there have been some. Many people like nice things but much more than a few of them take a standoff position on nicely crafted pieces of wood-worked projects, due to the commanded prices for same. They don't understand what all goes into the craftsmanship of such work. But the realization of that would never be a deterrent, for me. Indeed, there is a market for the type of things that I truly love creating.
My ACCES-VR counselor – Stephanie Shaw, was extremely helpful in bringing my dreams to fruition. The agency, itself, is in my opinion a Godsend – and she is someone who wasn't 'just doing her job'. It is my very strong belief that because of Ms. Shaw and ACCES-VR, I now have the opportunity to do as I've always wanted to.
My CNC machine has been a true game-changer, in my shop. It is what I asked for ACCES-VR to purchase for me to take my business to the next level. Ms. Shaw worked tirelessly, towards making this happen – and I couldn't thank her enough. As this machine does not require anywhere near the physical expenditure of my other machines, I am able to spend hours upon hours of time in my shop. My CNC does all the work, and I am in the shop (mainly) to monitor the carving processes. I am also able to focus on some other woodworking tasks (most often designing some other projects, on my laptop), while that machine is doing its thing. This level of craftsmanship – that I can now do, wouldn't have been possible, if not for getting this CNC and the sponsorship of ACCES-VR.
* Nathan is the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) 2021 statewide award winner in the “Entrepreneur with a Disability” category.
This story was submitted by Dennis Martinez
Regional Workforce Development and Business Relations Representative
Buffalo District Office