HIGHLAND | CJ Compton sees an antique future for his custom furniture pieces.
The owner of Compton Customs designs and builds furniture using traditional dovetail joinery and local or exotic hardwood as well as offers special cabinetry work.
“When I build standalone pieces of furniture such as dining tables, coffee tables or armoires, there are no screws or nails but traditional joinery,” he said. “A piece from us is going to be something that you have forever. When people say, 'This is an armoire from my great-grandmother,' that is built with dovetail joinery – glue joints – but today’s glue is even better.”
Compton works with customers to craft their ideas whether they have a sketch, picture or just a concept. He can help guide them through the design process based on budget, space and taste as well as work with local artists for metal, stone or glass touches.
“My most common is the mud room entryway locker system. People want something kids can come in and hang their coats on and put their shoes underneath,” he said. “One of my favorite items I just built last Christmas: a kitchen island with walnut on top and a base made of real ash – big and bulky like a butcher block.”
Compton learned his way around a saw from his grandfather, the late Ed Bauer of Bauer Builders, and his father, Joe Compton, of Compton Construction.
“My grandfather and dad built homes. Carpentry is in our blood,” he said.
After working for his dad over the years, Compton shadowed a business owner to learn the specifics of running a furniture shop.
“I wanted to turn this into a full-time thing and not just a hobby,” he said.
Compton took advantage of an opportunity for a shop in Medaryville, but the commute was hard on him and his family.
“It was a great price but far away,” he said. “Once I had enough money put away to move the shop and pay rent (here), I moved the shop to Highland.”
He decided to focus on furniture to create pieces that have longevity, feeling mass-produced items can have short lives.
“I want people to realize in this throwaway lifestyle, they can afford heirloom-type furniture,” he said. “I enjoy the process working to build one-of-a-kind pieces that fit their spaces and are quality and I can keep the cost within their budgets.”
While Compton doesn’t necessarily see himself as an artist, he is building on the history of cabinet makers who were called artisans in the 1800s as well as blending experience with an artistic eye.
“On the artist side of things, is the design part. The knowledge I put into the furniture and the ability to build it correctly, that is the cabinet maker side of things,” he said. “I think some of my pieces can be considered art. I see the beauty in different kinds of custom furniture.”