Breaking News Bar
posted: 6/9/2012 3:53 PM

Elburn woodworker creates custom furniture

Success - Article sent! close
  • Jim Campana sands a cabinet door Friday at his woodworking shop in Elburn. He's been building furniture and cabinets professionally since 1978.

      Jim Campana sands a cabinet door Friday at his woodworking shop in Elburn. He's been building furniture and cabinets professionally since 1978.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


Jim Campana paid attention when his father was making a living as a toolmaker in Mount Prospect for 55 years.

"I grew up in a tool shop," Campana said.

He applied that experience to woodworking and opened Campana Woodworking, an Elburn shop where he has built custom furniture since 1978.

Or is it a Geneva shop?

Campana admits his shop, at 39W835 Midan Drive, is in a "really weird spot." He has no mail sent to the shop, mainly because there is plenty of confusion about whether it is in Geneva, Elburn or La Fox.

"I tell people I am just west of the hospital," Campana said. In reality, it's just west of Mill Creek Elementary School in Geneva in a small industrial area.

Regardless of its official location, the site has served as the creative world for Campana's woodworking passion.

"I do custom furniture, but I don't do upholstered furniture," Campana said. "The customers give me an idea of what they want, and I produce a drawing and we go from there."

Generally, people like the idea of being involved in a process to custom build their furniture, Campana added.

"I work extremely hard to build what they want, not what I can build," Campana said. "I think they are appreciative of the fact that I am not trying to change what they want."

It doesn't mean Campana won't offer ideas or advice, particularly if he knows what the customer is seeking may not work out the way they had hoped.

"People are pretty reasonable when you explain why something might not work," he said.

For a guy who started out simply building furniture for his family, and then for a few of his friends' families, working in his own shop for nearly 35 years equates to a match made in heaven.

"I've built simple tables and entire libraries," Campana said of his work. "And I made a table for a lady who described one that she loved from her past.

"It's always worth it when you create something they will always remember."

She made her mark: Congratulations should go out to Lincoln School elementary teacher Kris Anderson, who retired last week after 35 years at the St. Charles school.

Hundreds of well-wishers attended her retirement party at Lincoln School last weekend. That's no surprise, considering she's been a wonderful teacher for hundreds of kids and a great booster for St. Charles, where she has lived all of her life.

We suspect we'll hear more about her involvement in various aspects of the community in the future.

Teachers' old habits die hard.

A sign is up : The former Monterrey Place pizza restaurant along State Street in Geneva has a new sign hanging on it. The banner proclaims "Three B -- Brothers, Burgers, Beer and More ... Coming Soon."

So it appears we'll have another option for burgers and a cold beer in downtown Geneva soon.

a sign is down: The Tuscany Italiana awning sign is finally off the former State Bank building at Third and State streets in Geneva, signaling that a new music/dining venue at 302 W. State St. should be right around the corner.

Owner Mike Knuth has been planning for live music and dinner in the new restaurant, to be called EvenFlow Music and Spirits.

This figures to be easy listening or jazz music, as a backdrop for dining. It's a new idea for downtown Geneva, and it seems a far better notion than a significant location sitting empty for nearly six years, which is about how long it has been since residents and visitors have dined in that building.

Sleeping on it: Zzzzzzzz Oops, sorry. Fell asleep awaiting the opening of the Golden Corral restaurant in Batavia. Maybe that's what Rip Van Winkle was doing?

A riverbank view: It's still one of the better ways to see the trail along the Pottawatomie River and check out the new sculptures in Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles.

Plus, it's a good cause operating in memory of a good guy who cared a lot about how the riverbanks looked in his hometown.

The River Corridor Foundation of St. Charles has already sent word out that the annual Bob Leonard 5K Run and Walk-a-Thon will be held Aug. 11. The run starts at 8 a.m. with the walk at 9:30 a.m.

The event represents the major fundraiser for the organization that has cleaned up segments of the riverfront in the city for the past several years. Information is available at

A great Dantino day: Now that was a rally to help your neighbor.

Hundreds of people showed up last Sunday at the family picnic and fundraiser to help Ralph Dantino deal with the medical costs in his fight against cancer.

Ralph and his wife Nancy surely had to be pleased with the turnout at Riverview Banquets in Batavia. As it is with many people dealing with overwhelming medical costs, the Dantinos likely wanted to keep their problems low-key.

But their friends felt differently about it, organizing a much-needed gesture of support.

The Dantinos can look at it this way: In addition to realizing how many people care about them, they should also note that a community needs events like this to rally around. It reminds everyone what their hometown is all about.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.