Teen has knack for woodworking
September 3, 2001
Hayden — When 13-year-old Alicia Hall and her family move into their new home, her bedroom will feature oak furniture made by her 16-year-old sister.
Young Alicia will have the task of figuring out where to put a three-drawer dresser, a telephone stand, a chest lined inside with cedar and an armoire.
All of these impressive works done with oak wood were done by Alicia’s sister, Allison Hall, in a nine-month span as a freshman at Hayden High School.
“That was her old dresser,” Allison said pointing to a white rickety dresser. “It was falling apart, so I made a whole bedroom set for my sister.”
Allison’s work with wood runs in her bloodlines. Her father, Gus Hall, is a carpenter.
“I have been around houses being built for most of my life,” said Allison, who is a junior at Hayden.
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At an early age, Allison took up the art of creating furniture out of wood.
“When I was 6, my sister and I would get four pieces of wood and nail it together,” she said. “At the time, we thought we had a wonderful box.”
Allison’s mother, Annette, did not become aware of her daughter’s talent until Allison started to bring her work home.
“It is pretty incredible what she does,” Annette said. “She puts her heart into it. I couldn’t do anything like this.”
Allison took her very first wood class in sixth grade at Steamboat Springs Middle School. It was not until she came to Hayden that she flourished in her work.
“Hayden has one of the best wood shops in the state,” Allison said. “The equipment makes everything we make much easier.”
For the past 23 years, Mark Wilson has been teaching wood shop at Hayden High School. He has been impressed with Allison’s work.
“She is such a hard worker,” Wilson said. “She just goes right after it. She does quality work, and she is pretty creative. That is where it all starts. You have to have an idea, and she always has one.”
Allison never knew how her work ranked until last year at the Routt County Fair. Allison was helping Margie Arbogast with photographing the fair.
At the time, Allison was putting the finishing touches on an oak chest and showed it to Arbogast.
“The chest was really beautiful,” Arbogast said. “It was really remarkable. I told her she had to enter it into the fair.”
Allison took Arbogast’s advice and entered her work into the fair. For her entry, she was awarded the top prize grand champion.
Allison’s work was impressive enough that she was asked to make an oak chest for the recent auction held in conjunction with the Ski Town USA Golf Classic in August.
The proceeds of the event benefited Yampa Valley Medical Center, Steamboat Rotary’s youth and senior programs and Doak Walker endowment scholarships.
“She donated the chest to the auction,” Arbogast said. “It is pretty outstanding when a young person does that.”
Allison also excels in the classroom and in athletics. She is a member of the school’s National Honor Society and plays volleyball. She also is the wrestling team’s manager.
She enjoys working with wood because it is relaxing.
“It is so peaceful,” she said. “Mr. Wilson is also very dedicated and is a genius.”
The wood Allison uses to create her work is purchased by her mother.
Once Allison has the supplies she goes to work at the school’s shop.
Before the wood is cut, Allison uses the school’s computer equipment to make a 3-D drawing of what she is making.
“I have to measure all the angles,” she said. “It takes quite a bit of math skills.”
The only aspect Allison won’t do when working on a project is use a table saw.
“I have Mr. Wilson help me with that,” she said. “But once that is done, I glue all the pieces together and add the detail.”
Although Allison has made furniture for her sister and others in her family, the only piece of furniture she has made for herself is an oak trophy case that hangs in her bedroom.
“It took me about two weeks to make it,” said Allison, admiring the wooden case full of medals, ribbons and certificates covered with glass. “I plan on making more for myself.”
When Allison returns to school today, she is eager to start her new project for the year.
“I am going to make a pine log bed,” she said. “It will be for me. It will be my first time working with logs. I can’t wait.”
Although Allison recognizes she has a talent for making furniture, she does have aspirations of becoming a physical therapist.
“Working with wood is a hobby for me,” she said.
“I want to go to college. But someday I would like to have my own shop. Working with wood is definitely something I want to stick with.”