Blue Oaks Ironworks
Young entrepreneur, Ethan Thornton, age 18, has been in business making and selling unique items out of wood and iron. We asked him a few things about his business.
What’s your grade and what school do you attend?
I’m a senior at Boerne Champion High School. I play football, and I’m the president of the National Honor Society.
What do you do?
I mostly make knives, and more recently, small woodworking goods. My best-selling goods are chess boards, slingshots, and throwing axes.
What got you into this?
I’ve always loved making things, but over Covid-quarantine I finally had the free time to really delve into this interest. I started by making a coal forge with a hole in the ground and a leaf blower, then slowly saved up to buy new tools and better materials.
What do you find most rewarding?
I really enjoy the feeling at the end of the day. Closing the garage door, brushing off the sawdust, and walking back into the house; carrying my empty coffee mug and whatever I made that day is indescribable. I’m a journeyperson, and I don’t like this moment for the finished product, but instead, for everything the products symbolize. Looking at them, I can see every imperfection, every solution to a problem I had, and every part I’m proud of. I know how much I learned making them, and I can feel, in the soreness from looking down, the stiffness in my fingers and the splinters in my hands, the effort they took. Setting them down on the kitchen counter and walking upstairs, I close the door on the day, having both the products that I made and what I learned from making them.
What have you found to be the most challenging?
The hardest part is tooling and prototyping. Each time I wish to make a new product, I must first gamble and invest in tools that I believe will help me make it. This is often very risky as I don’t know whether the tools will truly help me make it, whether it is something that will be worth the still unknown time of making it, and if it will sell. These dilemmas, and associated missteps, present themselves constantly and often force me into spending large amounts of money unnecessarily, a major hindrance when operating on the fringes of making a profit.
Any future plans for your business?
I plan to continue it through college, building up massive amounts of inventory over the summer, and would someday like to own my own shop which I can operate out of.
What is your future job?
My goal is to go into aerospace engineering. I’ve always been fascinated by flight, and I love math science, and- clearly, making things.
Where would you like to attend college?
I hope to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and major in physics. If admitted, I’ve been offered a position on their football roster to play wide receiver, and hope to get an Airforce-Spaceforce ROTC scholarship. Afterward, I would love to get a graduate degree in aerospace engineering, serve as an officer in the Spaceforce, then eventually become an engineer in the private sector.