The Ancient Greek noun tektōn is a common term for an artisan/craftsman, in particular a carpenter, woodworker, or builder. In Matthew 13:55 we find that Jesus was the son of a carpenter which would make Joseph and Jesus the sort of men you called when something needs to be fixed.
In this holy month of April, we celebrate our own carpenter and artisan – Todd Nicholson.
Todd began his career at GE working on jet engines followed by time at Westinghouse designing power generating equipment. He then took a turn designing toys for Kenner where he was paid $1 for his international patent on the Braniac Action Figure.
Fascinated with how things work, Todd began designing elevators for Fujitech, became an independent contractor for Proctor and Gamble, and in his last official job, he became a Home Inspector.
Todd picked up woodworking as an adult, and just like Joseph did with Jesus, he was able to share his passion with his sons: Christopher, who owns his own custom cabinetry business in Boulder, CO and Jonathan who runs his own Home Remodeling business in Chicago.
Todd and Carolyn recently gave a tour of their home to show us more of his handiwork and incredible workshop.
From recipe stands and refinished tables and cabinets, Carolyn made sure to point out her favorite piece and the one that took Todd the longest to complete – the corner hutch.
The basement of their home houses a very sacred space – Todd’s Sawdust Sanctuary. Every tool in this space has a story: Table Saw, Wood Lathe, Band Saw, Cut-off Saw, Scroll Saw, Osleg Sander, Router Table, all of them were gifts given to Todd throughout his life. Tucked away in a corner, is an AutoCAD machine which is used to create precise 2D and 3D drawings and models, as well as electrical diagrams, construction drawings, and more.
Todd said, “I’m kind of a perfectionist – that’s why I have the AutoCAD–if I decide I want to do something, I think about it for a while, to figure out what the process is, how I’m going to get started-how it’s going to go together. That was my forte in engineering, you look at a problem and you try to figure out how it became a problem and then how to fix it. I was always the fixer.”
Todd’s first project for St. Barnabas was to create choral cubbies and cabinets for the choir and that began a legacy of projects that he has created for us. Carolyn said that whenever they are at church, he is always looking around trying to figure out what we need or what to fix. Todd followed that up with, “I like the challenge of taking things that are broken and fixing them, like the kneelers. I took home all of the kneelers that had cracks – 38 total. I carried 1 or 2 home every week and a half and it took me over a year to do that.”
You don’t have to look very far to see Todd’s work all around us:
Chapel of the Rose –Altar, Kneeler and 2 Prayer podiums
Prayer station with red candles in the Sanctuary
Prayer Boxes in Sanctuary and Chapel
Credence Table Top Extension
Small Service Table
Godly Play Shelving
Offering/Mail Slot for Mary Beth’s office
Crosses attached to Prayer Shawl
When he isn’t creating something for St. Barnabas, Todd turns his attention to making artisan wood bowls.
“I love the process of working from the inside out.” Todd works with many different types of wood, but his favorite is the faulted maple. This wood is unique in that when the bark of this tree splits, the tree grows and heals itself creating striations that result in a beautiful wood project. A parallel in nature to our own faith journey.
In keeping with his generosity and love for all of us at St. Barnabas, Todd has given Rev. Jane the wooden bowls which will be the vessel for the bread during our Eucharist for Holy Week and the Easter season. As we partake of the Body of Christ, we will be doubly blessed by generous gifts.
Todd and Carolyn Nicholson have been a part of the St. Barnabas community since 1999 and have given of their time and talent from the day they walked through our red doors.
We are grateful to Todd for sharing his story and passion with us. You are invited to visit the exhibit to see his handiwork and walk through St. B to find all of his gifts.
Every moment I shape my destiny with a chisel – I am the carpenter of my own soul. ~ Rumi