The “Carpenter” trade is often described as being “nearly as old as time itself”.   In that trade, the Van Tol family has specialized in making products for the outdoors for many generations.  That specialty requires understanding how environment affects wood.  How to select and condition the proper wood specie to ensure that each product can tolerate the extremes of each specific environment.   

Once the environment at a property is understood and the correct specie chosen, the wood is conditioned to best tolerate the conditions it will serve.   As an example, wooden products built for a humid area will quite likely fail at an arid location.  Conditioning can take some time, and it is then often necessary to apply a series of sealers or finishes to block moisture and sunlight for maximum years of service.  Much of the systems we use come from the “old ways” and some from new technologies. 

People that work with their hands take pride in their history and their craft.  They do not abandon the often lengthy and labor-intensive old ways, and never stop working to improve quality.   Knowledge is an accumulation of what has happened in the past and the Van Tol family trade has a long past.


In short, we put the environment into each product and then put a roof and siding on each individual product to protect it from whatever elements wish to destroy them.  That is not easy, and we protect our knowledge of the systems, processes, and finishes that we use.

That requires an understanding of environments and wood.   There are any number of environments, and a number of wood specie that can be used in each.  Knowing the best specie to use in building each product required at that specific property and how to season it for that application is critical.

….The “Carpenter” trade is often described as being “nearly as old as time itself”.  It began with making wooden products that served in the open air, and now has many specialties.  The Van Tol family is just one of many that work in the carpenter trade.  Although the typical “woodworker” class make products that spend their life in an artificially controlled indoor environment.  For generations unknown, they have made simple products for use in the open air.


The typical modern suppliers of wooden outdoor products simply use a wood specie well known for outdoor applications like Ipe or Teak.  The expectation is that wood will do well in most applications. 

That is what we do, and few if any can match us in that. 

Long service life.

After any protective finishes  have been applied, we work with each customer to inform them on the maintenance procedures and products they will require to keep each product looking its best for maximum years of service.

Family business:

Our significant head start in building solid brand awareness.  A perception that the market share for our type of products is too small for the big players to work in.  An exceptionally high quality that scares off most potential competitors.  A reputation for durability beyond their ability to even understand, let alone match.

Wooden structures, tools, animal care items, etc.  Grandpa carried the trade from the “old country and Ken worked with his dad when young, but recovery from WWII in the carpenter trade was slow in their Iowa farm community.  Dad went to the city for work and the trade became a part-time operation and then a hobby.

We put our simple, quality tool belt on and just be who we are.  Sales training unnecessary and aggressively avoided.  Our promotion is that we are a family of simple carpenters, and are thankful to the people we serve for allowing us to continue in the family trade.  We invite opinion, criticism, and advice as it allows us to improve our workmanship.

The carpenter trade evolved into construction, and handwork was slowly abandoned

Although it is a fact that we would have been considered the lower class of carpenters in earlier times, the fact that our trade as harvest tool maker has been long forgotten makes us unique, almost allows us a “protected species” status in a world that feels guilty about walking away from its heritage.