Soldotna woodworker turns passion into cash

Posted: Thursday, May 03, 2001

Soldotna resident Bob Condon enjoys working with wood, and the various works he sells in an area gift shop show his passion for it.

A outdoors enthusiast, Condon produces fishing rod holders, toilet paper holders, towel racks and more, most with a salmon motif.

He makes the various projects from local beetle kill spruce, some of which he saws himself.

"I just do things that catch my eye," he said.

Condon said he saw a picture of a rod holder and started making them with his own special touch and his own design.

But not all the holders are for fishing rods.


Condon also leaned on a fish theme for these toilet paper holders, which are among the hand-crafted woodworking products on display at the Soldotna gift store.

Photo by Sara J. Smith

"I have built them for people for pool cues and for canes," he said.

"Anything that I can make that catches my eye that people want, I make. It is kind of like a hobby."

Condon has been building things most of his life. He started 40 years ago, building sporting camps and log cabins in Maine. He has been building things from wood ever since.

Currently Condon works for North American Fixture Installation, a company that installs the wood work, trim and cabinets for store chains such as J. Crew and Gap across the United States. The job takes him from Alaska a total of six months of the year.

But moving closer to job sites is not an option for him. Condon has lived in Alaska three times, later moving, but with his last move back to the Last Frontier, he said he has no plans of leaving again.

"I just love Alaska," he said. "This is it."


Sled made by Condon

Photo by Sara J. Smith

When he is not working

Outside, he makes the time to build the rod racks, kitchen cabinets and other various furniture in his 32-by-48 foot shop, another item he takes credit for building, located on his Soldotna property.

But rod racks and cabinets are not the extent of Condon's ability.

"I still build cabins here when I get a chance," he said.

He said he likes working on cabins because he can take ideas from the person he's building it for and build what they want.

"It is not so much a finished home, it is like creatively working with them," he said.

But cabins can sometimes get to be too much work, he said. The small items are his speciality.

Condon said he has plans to make a full-sized dog sled out of either ash or oak. He has made smaller sleds along with his salmon projects.

His salmon rods and other projects are displayed for sale at Malfunction Junction Gifts near the "Y" in Soldotna.

He plans to make more for the upcoming tourist season, noting salmon items would add a touch of Alaska to any home.

"They kind of go with Alaska, especially in the Kenai area."

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