ALHS grad works wooden wonders

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 27, 2002

When he took a seventh-grade industrial arts class, Zack Bowman didn’t know he would someday use that knowledge to remodel an entire kitchen for his mother.

But that’s exactly what he did for Mother’s Day this year. As part of his final class project, Bowman, a 2002 Albert Lea High School graduate, built what was essentially a brand-new kitchen, a project that included remodeling walls, building cabinets and removing a section of one wall to create a &uot;window&uot; looking into the living room. He said he replaced just about everything except the appliances.

In doing the project himself instead of hiring a professional company, Bowman estimates that he saved anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000, depending on materials used and whether the company was privately owned.

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Though for Bowman, the project was not difficult, it was time consuming. He planned the project for three weeks with the help of his shop teacher, Bill Webb, whom Bowman cites as having most greatly influenced his interest in cabinetry. The planning included having to know the dimensions of the kitchen walls so that the cabinets would be the right size, and planning for placement of the sink and appliances.

And that was only the planning part. Once he began the actual work, the project took two-and-a-half months to complete. Jo Ann Bowman, Zack’s mother, liked the idea of her new kitchen at first, but after more than two months without a finished kitchen, and with the work taking place at school instead of at home, she became nervous that Zack might not finish. She was, however, pleased when the job was complete.

&uot;This is a big project. It took me the last half of the school year to build it,&uot; Bowman said.

His mother’s kitchen wasn’t his last, either. Right now Bowman is busy remodeling his cousin’s kitchen as well &045; a job that he estimates will take about two months. The project will also include building an entertainment center.

Bowman has had other projects in the past as well. Besides school projects including a clock, a gun cabinet, a TV stand, an entertainment center, a coffee table with end tables, and a paintball gun display case, he has also for the past year been involved with VICA. As part of a VICA state competition, he was given four hours to build a sink base cabinet, and in doing so won, qualifying him to compete at the national level in Kansas City, Mo., where he had eight hours to build a stand for a telephone and telephone book.

&uot;I won’t find out until August how I did with that,&uot; said Bowman, explaining that the judging for that competition has not yet been completed.

Bowman hopes to attend a technical school in Eden Prairie that offers a woodworking program. He plans to eventually make a career of cabinet making, possibly with a shop of his own at some point in the future. Though already well skilled in cabinetry itself, Bowman will learn other essentials in the program, such as how to run a business and how to make the finished product more profitable. He said speed is an important part of the industry, explaining that a $10,000 kitchen-remodeling job that takes 10 days makes a lot less money than the same job taking only five days.

One of the things Bowman likes best about what he does, though, is not quite as tangible.

&uot;It gives you a good feeling, like you accomplished something,&uot; he said.