La Grange seventh-grader recycles trash to turn out treasures
Sean Robinson, 12,of La Grange used a lathe to make candlesticks and a mini baseball bat as end-of-the-year gifts for his teachers in May. | Jane Michaels—Sun-Times Media
Family: parents, Sue and Frank, and older brothers Brian and Kyle
School: seventh-grader at Park Junior High School in LaGrange Park
Favorite tool: Antique wood lathe
Future plans: Enter the La Grange Craft Fair in July and start a woodworking club at Park
Updated: November 19, 2012 1:34AM
LA GRANGE — Sunday nights can be gloomy for some with the thought of going back to work or school.
The night before garbage pick-up in his represents opportunity for Sean Robinson, who is taking repurposing to new heights.
So far, Sean has picked up, repaired and sold or traded baby strollers, snow blowers, weed trimmers and a 70-gallon fish tank with filters, water coolers.
“This was his third garage sale this year,” said his mom, Sue Robinson. “We’ve gotten rid of most of his stuff, and now we’ll be able to get a car back in the garage.”
Between garage sales, Sean showcases items of particular interest chained to a tree in his front yard, which gets a lot of traffic near Lyons Township High School. His inventory turns over regularly.
“Spring cleaning was crazy with so many people out there picking that day,” he recalled of the village’s free collection of items in April. “I did get some pretty good stuff.”
The purpose behind Sean’s wheeling and dealing is his new hobby, woodworking, which necessitates a variety of tools. Since May, he has taken over his dad’s basement workroom and usurped part of the garage for some of the bulkier machinery.
From estate sales, as well as curbside, Sean has acquired a band saw, drill press, double bench grinder, scroll saw, drill press, pipe bender, hand drill, belt sander and a mini lathe.
His first piece of machinery was a wood lathe so he could make candlesticks and a mini baseball bat as end-of year-gifts for teachers. He also has crafted shelves for video games, a ping-pong paddle, interlocking letters spelling out names and an assortment of signs.
“I don’t know how he’s figured out how to do all this,” Sue Robinson said. “He’s financially independent, acquiring all this on his own. All he wants for Christmas is a shed.”
Sean said he became interested in woodworking after his older brother designed a table with inlaid wood in a high school class. Sean watched shows on antiquing and has a natural curiosity about how things work.
Without a class available for someone his age, he sought out an apprenticeship of sorts from a neighbor who shares his expertise.
The young woodworker said he was thrilled to get his first order this summer from a family friend to design a turtle barn about the size of a big doghouse as summer quarters for three large turtles.
“He gave me the dimensions and colors he wanted and we came up with shingles for the roof,” he said, lifting one side of the roof for easy cleanup of hay and other debris inside.
“I painted it teal and then spray-painted red on top and sanded some off to make it look old,” he said. “I made the turtles on the front with a scroll saw and stained the shell darker than the body. I’m pleased with the way it turned out.”