A world away from video games

Madeline Hughes, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
·3 min read

Feb. 22—"Keep the sander flat," said Colby Junge, explaining how to use the power tool to fellow middle schoolers during an after-school workshop.

Colby, 11, and his brother Brody, 14, picked up woodworking skills at their parents' shop, Landmark Finish in Andover. They are now passing along their expertise to six middle-school students from the North Andover Youth Center.

In 2001, the boys' parents, Deanna and Stewart Junge, started their Andover-based mill workshop, where they create wooden cabinets and other fixtures. They moved the shop to the renovated mill building in Dundee Park in 2007, pivoted the business during the 2008 recession to work with commercial real estate, and most recently started making clear protection barriers for use during the pandemic.

The family began collaborating with the North Andover Youth Center for a six-week program in December after the center received a grant. Six middle-schoolers were able to come to the shop and create a wooden plaque. They etched a design into the wood using a CNC 3D printing and laser cutter machine, then added color by mixing together an epoxy.

"It's awesome to be able to offer this because we didn't have anything like it," said Lauren Sanford, adventure and recreation program coordinator for the center.

Once the registration for the program opened up, the six available spots filled within 30 minutes, she said.

Deanna and Stewart Junge were in a unique position to allow their sons to teach in a peer-to-peer environment at the family shop. Brody and Colby had been making pieces since they were very young. Rather than playing video games after school like many kids of their generation, the brothers worked on their woodworking skills, Deanna said. Then, about three years ago, the boys started going to craft fairs to sell wooden pieces made from scrap wood in their parents' shop.

"Now, with teaching these classes it's a cool experience (for the boys) to pass along and show kids their own ages these skills," Deanna said.

Her sons had been working with 3D printers and other technology in their parents' shop for years, and have even taught some things to their parents, so the boys knew they were capable of teaching their peers.

"It's really satisfying and rewarding to show other kids and teach them these skills," Brody said.

Many of the tools have changed from the traditional wood-working ones used years ago when the Junges first opened the shop. Now laser cutters make cuts into the wood and projects are smoothed with newer sanders that suck the resulting debris into a vacuum, improving air quality in the shop, Stewart said.

"Even though it's an old trade, you can modernize it and make cool things," he said.

The Junges are working with Andover Youth Center to set up a similar program as the family hopes to expand its efforts to teach woodworking skills to more young people at the shop.