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“I BELIEVE HARD WORK KEEPS US GOING” — 81 years young and his Woodmaster business is great

Published on April 6, 2014

“I BELIEVE HARD WORK KEEPS US GOING” — 81 years young and his Woodmaster business is great

Glen Tompkins displays his wares in the showroom of his workshop. Glen's best-selling product is a line of folding clothes drying racks he manufactures for a chain of Maine department stores. He also builds a number of other product lines including picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, and items shown here..

Glen Tompkins displays his wares in the showroom of his workshop. Glen’s best-selling product is a line of folding clothes drying racks he manufactures for a chain of Maine department stores. He also builds a number of other product lines including picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, and items shown here. (All photos courtesy Rumford Falls Times, taken by Cherri Crockett.)

We spoke with Woodmaster Owner, Glen Tompkins of Peru, Maine a few weeks ago and were charmed by this down-to-earth woodworker who’s working hard and enjoying every minute.

Glen’s up early every day to manufacture his successful line of old-time clothes drying racks he builds with his two Woodmasters from local materials — when he’s not cruising the coast of Maine in his Mustang convertible, that is.

“I’ve been at woodworking full time about 15 or 16 years now and even before that I did it part time. I always wanted to be a woodworker, but I ended up being a machinist, auto mechanic, and truck driver. I owned a couple of gas stations, a couple of dump trucks.

Here's a photo from our Woodmaster catalog of the 718 Molder/Planer. It handles stock up to 18-1/2" wide and is our best-selling Molder/Planer.

Here’s a photo from our Woodmaster catalog of a Molder/Planer like the one Glen owns. .

I manufacture the old fashioned folding clothes drying racks for Renys Department Stores — a chain of department stores here in Maine.

I make three different styles of drying racks, two sizes in each style. Besides Renys, I sell to a few to independent hardware stores in the area, and I retail a few out of my own location. I do a few craft fairs around Christmas time and in the spring. I got involved in this by picking up a couple old drying racks way back. I redesigned them and built my own. People saw them I got calls. I build enough to keep me busy and off the streets.

I have a couple part time fellows who come in and help me out when I need it. It keeps things going. I don’t hire any full time help. When I need these guys, I call and they come in and give me a hand. When they need help, I help them.

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He’s 81 and works every day

Of course, I’m an old goat. I just turned 81. I love life, I love what I’m doing. Up until two years ago, I rode motorcycles and now I got myself a Mustang convertible I cruise around in once in awhile. I believe hard work keeps us going.

Glen builds all kinds of wood products with his Woodmasters. Here he displays doll furniture he builds to accompany the popular American Girl Doll.

Glen builds all kinds of wood products with his Woodmasters. Here he displays doll furniture he builds to accompany the popular American Girl Doll.

My work schedule varies. If I get up early in the morning, I go in early. Some mornings I’m in the shop 4 o’clock in the morning because I can’t sleep. But I’m usually in the shop 7 to 4. It’s a regular business; people can call on me there. I just purchased a building and I have a retail area, a showroom, where people can see what I’ve got.

Top quality

I got hooked up with Woodmaster three or four years ago. I was cutting all the drying rack pieces on a table saw and drilling them on a drill press. I bought a Woodmaster Molder/Planer and set it up as a gang rip saw. It’s done a great job for me. Two years ago I bought a 38” Woodmaster Drum Sander. It does a great job, too.

Here's more of Glen's artistry — in the foreground, a planter in the form of an old watering can. In the background, a wooden toy chest.

Here’s more of Glen’s artistry — in the foreground, a planter in the form of an old watering can. In the background, a wooden toy chest with raised panels and a hinged lid.

I make the clothes racks out of pine; I buy all top-grade pine lumber from a sawmill from Bethel, Maine. The dowels are birch from another Maine company. I also make picnic tables and Adirondack chairs. I make my picnic tables out of top grade spruce from a local mill. My Adirondack chairs, I make out of pine and cedar. I make some that I put skis on. I build the frames and put old skis on the backs.

He visited other Woodmaster owners before buying

Woodmaster sent me a brochure and names of people near here who owned them and I went to look at them. Woodmaster’s a nice, rugged built machine. I’ve had a very good rapport with Woodmaster in Kansas City. I call Joe and he’s right on top of everything. I bought mine with a Pro Pack — a head for planing, one for sanding, one for molding. I use it for gang sawing. I can feed an 8” wide board — 7-1/4 actual width — and out come 6, 1” pieces. It’s a great machine, a great machine.

First a Woodmaster Molder/Planer, then the Drum Sander

My Drum Sander is the 3875 Woodmaster. I’d had smaller ones including a Taiwanese one. It was open ended and didn’t do a good job on panels. It would sand a panel 16” wide. If you want 32” wide, you’ve got to reverse it and run it through the other side. With the Woodmaster 38” sander, if you’ve got a panel 36” wide, you stuff it in and it comes out all good. You just run it through ‘til you get the finish you want. It does a great job. Every once in awhile, someone will come in with a panel they made and I’ll custom sand it for them. I do quite a bit of that custom work.

“I’d tell anybody…”

I’d tell anybody point blank what I use my Woodmaster tools for and how I like them. I’d recommend them any time to anybody. The service – I called Joe one day last week because I needed some Velcro and some sandpaper for my sander. It’ll probably arrive tomorrow or it may arrive today. Their service is good.

I have nothing bad to say about Woodmaster. Any time I need something they’re right there. I always ask for Joe and he’s right on top of it. If I need tech advice, they’re right on top of it. I’m not afraid to say Woodmaster’s a wonderful company to do business with. Some day I hope to get out there to see the factory and to talk to the people.

I’m getting old; I’ve got aches and pains but I just live with them. I have a medicine I take every night. It’s called Dewar’s White Label Scotch. About 3 fingers in a water glass and fill the rest up with ice cubes and you’re great. You don’t have to put that in your story.”

— Glen Tompkins, Woodmaster Owner, Peru, Maine

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