Evolution of A Bear & His Cabinet Shop

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I always look forward to each of your posts Bear. Your fortitude is truly amazing having dealt with all of the life curveballs tossed in. Keep up the fight, so glad you are here on SMF.
Thank You Matt !!
That's very kind of you, and I appreciate it !
And Thanks for the Like.


Very talented man John, and an interesting life you led. We still have a couple one room school houses in our town, but they've been turned into small museums.


Thank You Chris!!
I posted this before, but below is what happened to my First Grade School house.


Bear's first Grade. Now the meeting place of "The Richland Township Historical
Society": (About a half mile from the house I was born in)
Thanks for sharing a little more of your life with us John and appreciate the effort that you put into this site and your posts.
A man on many talents and always eager to help a brother in need!
Hard to find men of honor and sage advice anymore in the world of the internet where people feel like they can post anything while hiding behind a screen.


Thank You Keith!!
I have always tried to be nice, when at all possible.
And Thanks for the Like.

Great story, awesome pictures.

Your school story is cool.

I went to 6th grade in the 2nd floor of an 1800s 2 story house. A kindergarten class occupied the first floor. The main school did not have classroom space. The house was located a couple of hundred yards away from the main building. I remember the teacher meeting us at the main school in the morning, marching us to the house, back and forth to the main school for lunch, and back to the main school at the end of the day. The teacher would pick two students each mid-morning to walk to the school and carry back a crate with milk and cookies for the morning snack. Graduated with 28 in our class.

Thanks for making me think back!

Thank You Bill !!
I Appreciate that !
Sometimes it's fun to just sit back & remember the old days.

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Don't stop, please. I look forward to your posts, use many of your step by step posts. You have an interesting story and I read them more then once.

From a fellow PA'er.
Thank You PA'er!!
Glad You like them!

Thank you for sharing Bear, I’m always interested to learn more about people and never less than amazed at how interesting life’s journey can be. You have a great story to tell. I’m always happy to see your posts and can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from you over the years. When I first joined here after getting a. MES 40 I would have screwed up a hot dog on that thing if it wasn’t for you🤣
Not sure if you remember this:

Keep posting! Thank you for sharing and supporting us starting off and continued evolution! We’ve been using the air fryer info at our house, can’t always smoke/grill diner!

Thank You Jed!!
I remember that!!
I'm glad you like my stuff!
And Thanks for the Like.

Thanks for sharing John. You stick around bud. Enjoy talking to you
Thank You Jake!!
Appreciate that!


Bear, you are an incredible man who has had an incredible life. I enjoy hearing all about your life and your smoking/air frying. Your input on this site has helped, I think, everyone who has stopped by here. Thank you for everything sir.
Thank You Big!!
Thanks for the Kind Words!
And the Like.

Thanks for the post John. Some awesome workmanship there. I by no means am a carpenter. My favorite tool is the belt sander...erase mistakes fast. Take care.

Tom aka RG

Thank You Tom!!
LOL---Then you would have loved that edge sander that had the 156" long Belt !!

Don't even think about it. You're not going anywhere my friend :emoji_wink: After all that you've been through, including your service to our country, anybody should realize that what you're still doing is amazing and respect you for it.

That's a beast. "Back in the day" I had a pretty nice shop with most of what you've shown here but on a smaller scale. For me it was more of a hobby than an occupation, however I did create some interesting stuff for a few jobs I worked on professionally. I've often thought about setting up another shop but with all that's going on in life right now, there'd be no time to enjoy the stuff.
Thank You Robert!!
And Thanks for the Like.

Great story sir and thank you for sharing.

Keep em coming Bear, I love to see good craftsmanship at work, very hard to find nowadays. I enjoy the stories of people that just made it work no matter what has been thrown at them.
Thank You Cliff !!
Due to my Dad, I sometimes think I was born with sawdust in my veins.
Also, he had a small Tablesaw mounted on a work-bench, and he used to leave a cut list for some of his carpenter jobs, and Mom & I used to mill some lumber during the day, when he was at work. I wasn't much help when I was 5 or 6, but gradually took over her job, in his shop.
And Thanks for the Like.


Great thread John . Love the story , which I was already privileged enough to know most of it , and it never gets old . So I enjoyed it and actually read through it a couple times .
That table saw setup is top shelf . With that and some basic other tools you can do anything . The rest of the stuff really speeds production . All nice floor mounted equipment . Really nice shop .
I'm most comfortable in a workshop than any where else .
The walnut stain on the oak really tells a story to anyone that has done dark stain on a lighter wood . You had the whole process perfected from rough out / bill of materials to the last coat of finish .
I'm lucky enough to have seen some in person . It's mesmerizing to look at . Just top of the line craftsmanship .

Please post up the pics of the Kitchen at the " shop house " and don't forget to mention the elevator .

That South East corner of PA . is the Mecca for early American furniture , and cabinet makers . Just amazing craftsmen in that area still to this day .
Great thread John . I really enjoyed it .
Thanks for posting Bud .

Thank You Rich!!
It's a shame I didn't have a digital camera back while I was building Kitchens, Vanities, and Entertainment Centers. Now the only way I can show them would be to scan them first. I got stuff that would drive you nuts!
And Thanks for the Like.

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I love your stories, and especially those about craftsmen. Tell us another!

My dad was a second generation South Dakota carpenter during the Depression era with grandpa and my uncle. They got tired of the grasshoppers eating the barn, so they moved to the west coast to build Army camps before WWII. Kind of ironically, they both became science teachers after the war, building houses during the summers. Grandpa kept building houses and barns, then kid toys as he got older.

I started out working on Hueys and CH46’s as a civilian A&P mechanic in the states. I guess working with your hands is a genetic thing. I prize the tools I have from my dad and grandpa. Some of them get used every day on my projects.

Keep sharing!
Thank you John. Better stick around though because we haven’t gotten everything out of you yet I’m sure. Heck of a nice shop spread and I would very much like to see that kitchen. I had a business installing and finishing custom hardwood floors back in the early 90’s so I was a butcher while you were a surgeon, but I have a huge appreciation for craftsmanship and quality work. Everything I’ve seen of your work is absolutely top self. Would love to see more.
Thank You SE !!
Now you're bringing back even more memories!!
Like the first time I ever helped install Hardwood Flooring.
I was only about 10 years old, and I had to put everything into it & give it a good solid hit on that plunger, to get it to complete the drive. I was fine, until I got close to the far wall, and nicked the wall up with my back-swing. And it was fresh wet plaster walls in a new home. Dad said "Leave those last 3 or 4 runs go---I'll get them." "Move on to another room when you get that far". Sounded good to me!!
And Thanks for the Like.

John, I've said before, you have the greatest attitude about all that's happened to you, and it's more of an inspiration than anything I can think of. Those Cabinets in that office look excellent. I'm no Carpenter, but that shop looks very professional and as said above by Rich, You could do anything with that setup. Stick around, SMF still needs your wisdom.
Thank You Mike!!
Yup, I miss that shop, but just like the Smokers I got rid of, I couldn't do much with them now anyway.
And Thanks for the Like.

Thank you for the post, Bear.

I knew from my little bit of reading here that you are top-notch.
Its nice to read some of why you are regarded as such.

Don't you ever do that, John. I'd venture a guess at you were among the first to welcome me when I first joined SMF. You are an institution around here and would be sorely missed if you were to disappear. I expect to see you here posting as long as your health will allow, and I pray that you will be around for a good long time yet.
Thank You Doug!!
That's very nice of you to say!!
Appreciate it!


Amazing post and interesting read. You have lead quite a full life it sounds. Thank you for your service and I look forward to many more years of watching you evolve. Thanks for posting.
Thank You Ringer!!
And Thanks for the Like.

Props and much respect, Bear. There are a few reasons I keep visiting this site, despite the changes in the last few years. You are one of them.
Thank You Bert !!
That's very Kind of you to say!!
And Thanks for the Like.

Every time anyone asks me about smoking, bbq, or grilling I tell them about a guy on the internet named “Bear” and I give the Step-by-Step index link. I tell them you’ll finding everything you need right there.

You may have humble beginnings but the number of folks you’ve mentored online makes you a revered celebrity in my eyes. You’re a real person who’s been around every block numerous times. The kindness you exhibit by posting your experiences, good and bad, is immeasurable.

You’ve also cost me a lot of money and fostered an addiction in me. Haha! I started with a kettle and now I have no room in my backyard for one more cooker.

When my wife says, “Don’t you have enough grills?” My first reply is, “Well, Bear made this really amazing…”

Thank You Sven!!
It's all you Great Guys who keep me here!!
So I Thank You for the Nice compliments, Too!
And the Like.

John, your story brings back many memories. My dad's hobby was woodworking. His favorite things to build were furniture such as desks, bookcases, four poster beds, etc. He built a shop and had versions of most of the equipment in your pictures. But he's gone now and I have some of his hand tools, but the bigger equipment is all gone, too. We just didn't have a place to put it all nor the time to use it so it was better to let it go to someone who would. I still have several of his pieces, but our children have gotten most of them which is as it should be...
That sounds like Great Memories!!
I didn't do much "Furniture"---Just Kitchens, Vanities, and entertainment centers.
When I needed a "Desk", it was a 27" Drawer unit, sandwiched between 2 Drawer Bases.
And Thanks for the Like.

Evolution of A Bear & His Cabinet Shop

I thought I’d tell you guys more about me, while I’m still able.
I started off by being the 3rd born to a Self-employed Carpenter in Southeast Pennsylvania.
Mom worked in a Hosiery Mill for many years (making nylon stockings),and then went back to stitching Baseballs & Softballs at home. She was also paid to teach others how to Sew Baseballs.
Dad was a Self-employed Carpenter, who built 17 homes, without a helper, and also installed Venetian Blinds, Ceramic & Plastic tile, roofs, and small Concrete jobs. However most of his work was Remodeling homes. He was also the most avid Hunter & Fisherman that I have ever known.

I started out in a one room schoolhouse, with First Grade on the left half of the room, and second grade on the right half of the room. We had electric in the school, but no running water, 2 outhouses in the field behind the school, and a pump for water, in front of the school.
We also had a Potbellied Coal Stove in the back of the room for heat. The following year, there were too many first graders to have both first & second in one room, so they put a partition up in the feed mill next door, added 8 school desks, and we had second grade in the Feed Mill.
After another Red Brick One Room School house for third grade, we finally got to a modern multi-room School House, with indoor plumbing.
Then when I got to 10th grade, I chose Cabinetmaking, and half of my day was spent in the Woodshop of the Quakertown Community High School.
Then the following year they opened up a Technical School for 3 schools, including Quakertown, Pennridge, and Palisades, where I attended the Cabinetmaking class during the afternoon of every school day, and graduated there & from Quakertown in 1966.

Over the next few years, I worked at Link Belt, on the drafting floor, Insaco, and Bethlehem Steel.
At the age of 19, with things heating up, I found myself volunteering for the Army. It was called “Volunteering for the Draft”, which meant you only had to serve 2 years, instead of 3 or 4 in an enlistment. But then I added another year to be able to get an electronics course, to which I eventually quit anyway.
So 3 years in the Army, including Vietnam, put me back in Quakertown in May of 1971, alive & back at my Job @ Bethlehem Steel, which had been waiting for my return. Then after a total of 19 years, they closed my shop down, and I found myself in the Unemployment Line, with a lot of Vietnam Vets.
So I ran into an old Buddy of mine, who had been our neighbor & our paperboy when we were kids. He had his own Cabinet Shop in his detached Garage, and asked if I wanted to help him out. It was a ratty little place, but we turned out enough work for him to get another property & build a Pole Barn for a new & bigger shop. Then after about 10 years, and after hiring & firing a few other guys, things got too slow, and I was getting laid off too much, so we bought another house that had a big enough basement to have My own Cabinet Shop in the Basement.
I did just that—The 2,900 square foot basement had an extra block to give the ceiling height I needed, and we ran extra lighting throughout, and we ran Air Lines through the whole shop, and 220V lines where needed for some of the machines.
Then I bought the machines I needed, and got things going, before I quit the other job. I made my “Corner Gun Cabinet” as a test to make sure I & my Shop were ready, because if you can make a Corner Tall Cabinet, you can make anything.
Over the next 12 years, I made about 60 Kitchens & Vanities, and 8 offices, and probably about 25 entertainment centers.

Then when Bear Jr wanted to start his own Tower Business, we borrowed some money to help get him started, and we both quit our jobs to help him, once he got going. He did real good, real fast, and paid us back in full in less than 6 months.
So I worked for him for a few years, on ground work & Rooftops, where I wouldn’t have to climb 300’ or even10' or 12’. Then he got to the point where he didn’t need me much, so I advertised & built a few Decks, and then eventually I got into carving Bears with chainsaws, but that’s a story I already told, and can be seen @ this Link:
Why They Call Me "Bearcarver":
A Bear from Log to Finish

Then my health kept getting worse, and they decided I needed a new Aortic Valve, so I went in as an Out-patient to get my Coronaries checked with a Catheter. The “Doctor” doing the catheter screwed up & poked a hole in my Aorta, so they had to rush me to the ER to save my life. Then as long as I was there & unconscious, they moved up the changing of the Valve, and they replaced a section of my Ascending Aorta. So I spent 12 days in Cardiac Intensive Care, and 28 days in the hospital, before I left with new problems with my Kidneys & my Heart, and old problems with my lungs. Since that I got checked out by the VA, and they said “Agent Orange” was behind much of the start of the problems.
So now I don’t get around so good, and have quit just about everything you can’t do while being dizzy half of the time. This includes Driving, Fishing, Hunting, smoking meat, because of all the in & out of the doors, up & down the steps, and on my feet entirely too much, while needing oxygen 24/7.
I’ll keep doing whatever I can do, and posting anything that looks decent. If I get too boring, and people get tired of me, just let me know, and I’ll disappear.
Meanwhile I’ll put some pictures of that shop I used to have in the Big Basement (Below), and a few Pics of an Insurance Office I made some cabinets for.
I also have some Pics that Mrs Bear scanned of our Big Kitchen that we had in that same house. It was the biggest Kitchen I ever made, and if you guys want to see it, I’ll do a nice post on it, as soon as I get the pics together.

That’s about it—Enjoy the Pics!


3 HP, 10" Table Saw, with 5' X 8' extended table:
View attachment 634777
5 HP, 24", 3 blade Planer, with serrated & "Segmented" feed rollers:
View attachment 634778
3 HP Shaper, with Power Feeder:
View attachment 634779
8" Jointer:
View attachment 634780
Radial Saw, with Flip-stop Fence:
View attachment 634781
Two spindle Horizontal Boring Machine, with 14 locking spring loaded stops:
View attachment 634782
Edge Sander, with 6" X 156" sanding belts:
View attachment 634784
Band Saw, Drill Press, and Dust Collector:
View attachment 634785
Two Stage, 80 Gallon Vertical Air Compressor:
View attachment 634786
Binks Air Assisted, Airless Spray System, with Cobra Gun:
View attachment 634787
12" Tubeaxial Fan through wall, with Filters in doors:
View attachment 634789
Wheeled Drying Racks & filters for incoming spray room air:
View attachment 634788
First Job was this Small Insurance Office set-up:
View attachment 634790
Right Corner: (Walnut stain on Red Oak)
View attachment 634791
Left Corner 45° corner cabinet:
View attachment 634792

Base Cabinets & full length top:
View attachment 634793
Thanks for sharing. It's cool to see where you have come from, especially since you have so much great contribution to the site!

You keep posting whatever you want brother. I don't always comment on all posts these days but I often check out most new posts as I come across them.
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