Alcona teen woodworker makes gift for parents

LINCOLN – A bed being made by an Alcona Community Schools senior is the talk of the town. It has been mentioned at a county commissioners’ meeting. It’s been shown to tour groups visiting his school. Even his parents are excited about it. Same for the guy who sold him the wood.

But it could be a while before they see it, because the first thing Allen Van Den Boom has to do is finish it. He has to be graded on it by his woodshop teacher, Chuck Boyer. And he has to enter it May 3 in the Michigan Industrial Technology Education Society’s regional student competition. That is if Van Den Boom can keep up with everything else, including classes, studying, homework, sports and a paying job.

But he probably will manage, because he’s done it before, Boyer said. Van Den Boom made a hickory gun cabinet his junior year and walked off with the competition’s grand prize for the state.

The 17-year-old said this year’s project began taking shape when he visited Arrowcut Specialties, an Amish mill 50 miles west of Lincoln in the town of Mio. He purchased two slabs of natural black walnut and four cedar logs to use as legs. He also bought cedar boards and other supplies for a total cost of around $700.

Van Den Boom said mill operator Dave Miller wants to see the bed when done, because of its uniqueness. It’s value when completed could top $2,000.

“The design came after I saw everything Mr. Miller had,” Van Den Boom said. “All the walnut slabs that he had cut – that made me want to turn them into a headboard and footboard and build the underdrawers.”

His brother, Dalton, also is a talented woodworker. For his sophomore woodworking project, he is making a matching chest of drawers.

When both pieces are done, they will go into the 11-foot-by-12-foot bedroom of parents Al and Ellen Van Den Boom.

“Oh yes, we’re real excited about it,” Ellen said, adding that she and her husband have spent hundreds of dollars on wood for their sons’ high school projects.

“We figured we deserved something,” she said with a laugh.

The nature-inspired pieces will be unique in another way.

“You can’t go to a store and buy this stuff – because it’s created by two boys you love with all your heart,” Ellen said.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.