When he was a student at Canby High School, Austen Citrowske enjoyed the wood shop classes. One of his first projects was a gun cabinet that is in his home office.
"It was probably one of my favorite courses," said the 2008 Canby High graduate.
Austen Citrowske of rural Canby said one of his favorite courses in high school involved woodworking projects. In the last few years, he’s taken that love of creating things from reclaimed wood and other materials and turned it into a side business. Here, he is pictured in his office area where he made most of the items, including stools he made by using old tractor seats.
And in the few short years since high school, Citrowske has taken his love of working with wood and turned it into Covenant Creations.
During his senior year in high school, Citrowske spent three months in Alaska working at a lodge.
"That's where I learned some of my rustic work, using natural woods," Citrowske said. Then he took a couple of woodworking classes at Bemidji State University.
Last year, Citrowske got married and moved to a farm site. That's when he seriously started doing woodworking.
"It makes for a good sideline business," he said. Citrowske also farms. "Woodworking helps to fill up the wintertime and the off-times. Pretty much every aspect of woodworking is enjoyable to me."
Citrowske said he's able to work with customers to figure out what they are looking for in a product, such as a table or a cabinet. Sometimes customers will show him a photo of the style of what they want. Then there are the customers who leave the planning to him.
"They kind of let me use my imagination to come up with a style for them," he said.
Earlier this month, Citrowske brought several of his woodworking pieces to the Brookings Summer Arts Festival in Brookings, S.D.,
"I like to do things that people haven't seen before," Citrowske said. A couple of the things he does is use old tractor seats to create wooden stools or driftwood to make a light fixture.
He's also displayed his work at the Lake Home and Cabin Show in Minneapolis.
"I've been busy enough," he said. He said he got quite a few orders from the Brookings Summer Arts Festival.
Citrowske said he usually tries to get the wood for his projects closer to home.
"I like to use as much local wood as I can," he said. For example, he helped a person in Marshall clear a grove in trade for black walnut and spruce wood. Neighbors will also give him logs that he will bring to a sawmill for his use.
For some of his projects, Citrowske said he'll use reclaimed wood from structures. He's also used tin roofing for inserts in cabinets and reclaimed beams from old barns and granaries.
"It gives it a unique style and look," Citrowske said of the reclaimed wood. "Older woods have that old growth grain to it."
One of his "experimental" projects is making gun stocks.
"It's just because of the precision and the fit, it's more of a carving than building a cabinet or desk or a table," he said. With a gun stock, he has to go with the feel of the grip, he said. "Some day I hope to be able to make custom-fit gun stocks."
Going to craft shows and home shows is interesting, Citrowske said, because it's interesting to see what people are interested in. He built his own booth for the Brookings Summer Arts Festival from reclaimed materials.
"That kind of draws people's curiosity," Citrowske said.