After 20 years hammering away in the tech industry, one Fall City resident saw a way to trade one cutting-edge job for another, and so far, he seems to be nailing it.
Jeb Haber left a job at Microsoft last year to spend time with his family and start a woodworking craft kit manufacturing business out of his garage. His business, TogetherMade, uses technology to create kits for wooden knives, knife pouches and a cribbage set, all of which are meant to be assembled by the customer.
“I knew I wanted to start a small family business,” Haber said. “I was ready to do something different.”
Haber draws up designs for his products on a computer that produces blueprints. The information is then inputted into to a large laser cutter. Raw leather and wood are placed on the cutter, which etches out the designs and makes the cuts by vaporizing the materials. When they are complete, the pieces can be taken apart, packaged and sent out to customers.
Letting customers piece together the crafts is the whole idea behind Haber’s business model. They must be assembled, which gives parents and children a chance to work on a project together instead of zoning out in front of screens.
“The intent with this is to get them making something and to get them working with their hands,” Haber said.
His first product, a completely wooden pocket knife replica, comes in parts that must be put together, sanded down and stained. No glue is used in the knife; it relies completely on compression and the pieces fitting together like clockwork. It comes complete with a bobby pin to create a sturdy lock for the collapsible wooden blade. Engraved leather pouches can also be purchased and must be stitched together and are big enough to hold a full-sized Leatherman. Haber also offers a cribbage set, which customers have to assemble.
“There’s a satisfaction of making something and there’s a pride in craftsmanship,” Haber said.
The kits come with detailed instructions on how to assemble the products. Haber said it gives kids a chance to pick up on skills like staining wood, assembling crafts and some basic woodcutting techniques.
Haber said he takes pride in the materials he uses, sourcing needles and clasps from companies whose histories date back to the 1800s. His leather comes from the same distributor that supplies Filson and Haber has plans to use it in a wider range of products in the future. Some ideas include bison puzzles, small wooden knife key chain attachments and leather utility belts.
While TogetherMade was launched only a few weeks ago, business seems to be going strong with Haber already shipping kits to 22 states. If it takes off, he would like to move into a more permanent location and start hiring local employees as he scales up.
At the end of the day, Haber said his kits boil down to a good way for families to bond and for kids to pick up some useful skills.
“These projects you can kind of do anywhere, it’s a great camping project, it’s a great rainy day activity,” he said.