Building Ability is a work-based social enterprise of Easterseals for individuals with disabilities interested in learning woodworking skills, begun in 2006. Prospective employees must first prove a willingness to work hard in our packaging and fulfillment center. When they graduate to Building Ability, most are highly motivated to show more of what they can do.

Woodworking trainees, patient supervisors

By the time a woodworking trainee starts constructing pieces for retail sale, he or she is working through a rigorous 10-level curriculum including measuring, selecting materials, sanding, drilling, planing, joining, sawing and finishing. Before graduating to “the floor,” each employee completes a personal project from design to finish. During their progression through the curriculum, our workers are closely supervised. Each shop leader has a proven track record in construction and training adults with disabilities.

Repurposed Lumber

Most of our materials are donated, and that’s a great thing for both the environment and our customers. Wood that would go to the landfill is made into beautiful, functional furnishings.

  • We get century-old wood in excellent condition from Building Value’s deconstruction projects that would be impossible to buy on today’s market 
  • Some of our wood comes from trees in Cincinnati Parks that have been struck by lightning or disease 
  • Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, which has a goal of zero waste, donates high-quality wood from shipping containers 
  • We repurpose wood from flooring and barn siding that are too expensive to use in new construction today
  • Pine and treated lumber are frequently donated and work well in our Outdoor products
  • Mahogany, walnut, oak and cherry become unique ball point pens

The combination of woods we use makes each finished piece unique. Many items are similar, but no two are exactly alike!

Emphasis on Quality

Because our focus is on training, we take the time to do things right. Every item in our catalogue is hand-made with great attention to detail. There is more hands-on supervision than any commercial shop could provide, and greater quality control. Working here is a dream come true for our employees. They come as much for the camaraderie and the chance to make things as the paycheck, and take great pride in exceeding customer expectations.

Building for Cincinnati

If you’ve been to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, you’ve seen the quality that goes into everything we make. We built the 3-compartment recycling bins in the restaurant and the 2-compartment bins around the park. If deserted houses are coming down in your neighborhood, chances are Building Value deconstructed them as part of an ongoing Keep Cincinnati Beautiful grant, and donated the salvageable materials to us. Building Ability built the picket fences surrounding the cleaned-up lots.