While the name “First Mountain” has only been around for a few years, the owner Carley Abner, has been creating art from wood for more than 50 years. You could call it a lifelong passion, or possibly an obsession but it all started in his father’s cabinet shop over 50 years ago. Carley has made everything from roll-top desks and kitchen cabinets to hand-carved life-like decoys. Carley says, “if it can be made from wood, we will give it a try”. Much of the wood used by First Mountain is salvaged from older wood or, in lots of cases, from trees that have died and fell or blown down from storms. Some woods we have to purchase but regardless of the source we try to get the most out of each piece.
Carley makes a variety of unique items such as wooden snowmen, wooden rings, ink pens, and Cowboy Hats. But nothing has consumed him quite like the thought of building canoes and kayaks. This idea came after a conversation with his brother Steve in 2010 who had been wanting to build a strip canoe. “Building boats is really working with wood at a whole new level,” he says. “I discovered that this wasn’t just building an attractive boat, it was a whole new approach to art”. Building kayaks and canoes is a three step process: selecting and pairing the right woods for the right effect, deciding on the theme and art design and the final construction and assembly process. Today, First Mountain canoes and kayaks are owned by people from Florida to Michigan. Each one is a one-of-a-kind work of art, designed specifically for the individual client. “I love making boats,” Carley says, “but it’s a real joy to watch one hit the water for the first time, paddled by a client who’s going to love it for years to come.”
Whether it is a special kayak, a simple wooden bowl, or a one-of-a-kind cowboy hat, Carley will build a special one just for you.