Between house projects in 1985 I worked for Karpy, of Karpy’s Custom Kitchens. He was having a house built and I was a floating spare set of hands. I helped the electrician, cabinetmaker and plumber when needed. The rest of the time was spent painting and landscaping. In my few months there I learned quite a bit.

Karpy showed me that innovation took work. He had no problem having good work torn apart and done over until his vision was satisfied. Our design sense was completely at odds. It was good for me to realize that even though I considered his taste criminal, it was his taste and I was there to help him achieve his goals. To not be so self-righteous. To appreciate the quality craftsmanship throughout and glean what I could.

One day the electrician asked me to cut the cat house power. The house was full of site-built specialty lighting. We were inside and he was on a 10' step ladder, adjacent to interior soffit lighting that ringed the room. I figured “cat house” was a term for that interior soffit. I cut the power. The electrician got bit. I made sure the power was off, and he got bit again. It turned out that above the interior soffit lighting, also ringing the room, was an actual cat house, as in, a house for the cats. I learned that day, if you don’t know, ask.

The carpenter catching all the odds and ends had been the lead cabinetmaker in Karpy’s cabinet manufacturing plant. If he was going to do something more than once he, built a jig for it. His jig for locating cabinet knobs started with a scrap of hardwood. He’d attach a lip to the top and one side. That lip was meant to be placed on the upper corner of a cabinet door. The knob location was marked on the scrap and a hole, the same size needed to accommodate the knobs screw, was drilled. You could now take the jig, hold it on any cabinet door, and drill for that door’s knob. The jig pictured is for placing drawer pulls.