Local business of the week: Handy Craftsman

Stoney Lake Border Photo Courtesy of Vince Yon

Here at Cottage Life, we realize how hard the COVID-19 pandemic has hit local businesses. To do our part, we’ll be highlighting the stories of different businesses in cottage country. This week, we spoke with Orangeville, Ont. resident Vince Yon who owns the Handy Craftsman.

What is the Handy Craftsman?

It’s mainly renovations and home repairs, typical handyman stuff. I’ve refinished a few cottages, mostly flooring. But since COVID, I’ve been trying to shift more towards building furniture, indoor decorating, wood carvings, and stuff like that.

Kitchen Renovation
Photo Courtesy of Vince Yon

Where are you based?

I’m in Orangeville, so I tend to limit my work area to there, Caledon, Shelbourne, Hockley, Grand Valley, and Alton. I do occasionally head to cottage country, but it’s got to be a job that I can figure out when a good time is. I have to figure out accommodations and stuff like that.

What are your favourite projects to work on?

I think the lake boards. Any of the epoxy stuff is just such a cool process. It comes out looking so awesome. You know, a lot of times people see pictures of it and they don’t get the full effect. But then they see it in person and they’re just stunned.

The lake board thing started last spring when I was fishing in the States and saw one in a store. I thought, ‘Jeez, I wonder how they make those?’ I looked into it, and started making them for friends and family. Around Christmas it really took off.

The whole epoxy thing has been pretty popular for a few years now, and on top of the lake boards, I’ve also started doing epoxy on some tables.

Baptiste Lake
Photo Courtesy of Vince Yon

How do you make the lake boards?

I take photographs off of Google Earth of whichever lake a person wants. Then I edit the photographs and convert them to my CNC machine and let it do the carving. After that, I fill it with whatever epoxy the person wants for the lake and lettering.

I can even tint the epoxy—it’s clear by nature. I show people a couple different colours, different blues they might like, and we go from there. There’s a couple colours that tend to come out a little bit nicer than others. For the most part, I stick to the same sort of blue colour, but if people want something lighter, I can make it lighter or darker.

What I’d like to do next is a relief map underneath with a transparent sort of blue on it so that you can actually see the contours of the lake.

Little Lake Board
Photo Courtesy of Vince Yon

How has the pandemic affected your business?

Sourcing materials and the price of materials have just been crushing during the pandemic. It’s just excruciating right now. The price of materials is crazy. I mean, a two-by-four has gone up double in price. It makes the price of renovations really high.

And this last little while, you can’t really go out, which makes picking up materials and going to different job sites harder. Fortunately, I started a pretty big house renovation before the lockdown happened, so it’s not too bad.

What does the future look like for the Handy Craftsman?

The one thing that COVID has shown me is that I’d really like to shift towards making things at home and then delivering them. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing renovations and repairs, but it’s nice being at home, being around my kids and family. I’m still trying to figure out how I can make the full shift towards that, but certainly getting orders in helps.

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