Narrow Gate resides on a property known as Leatherwood Forge, and several years ago God placed a vision on our heart to create on-site artisan shops that live up to that name: places where young men create items with leather, wood and the forging of metal.
In 2011, all three shops came into full operation, and we now witness the creation of products weekly. Volunteer artists use the shops as avenues to connect with our students and develop relationships that go beyond the buildings' walls. Young men come alive through the creative process and learn biblical lessons inherent throughout, then walk away confident in the items created by their own hands. In the process, some young men find they possess a passion and talent for one of the crafts and apply the skills they learn as a future career or hobby.
The Leather Shop
Narrow Gate has received training from individuals at Tandy Leather of Nashville and Long Hollow Leather of Franklin, Tenn. in order to properly cut, carve, sew, lace, stamp and apply finish to leather. Our students now produce journal covers, bookmarks, bracelets, knife sheaths, belts, guitar straps and more.
Leather work requires precision, diligence and attention to detail, so Narrow Gate students use the leather shop as an environment to practice these qualities. The quiet work allows for conversation among staff, students and volunteers, leading to deepened relationship with one another and God. In the process, we produce quality items that are given to individuals or other causes for their benefit.
The Wood Shop
To train young men in the wood shop, Narrow Gate partners with the Tennessee Association of Woodturners (TAW), a group of skilled craftsmen devoted to furthering and spreading knowledge of the craft of woodturning. In August 2010, Tom Yount, one of the organization’s members, graciously donated his entire wood shop to Narrow Gate with a desire for members of TAW to train our young men in our own shop. Now volunteer woodturners consistently come out to our property for woodturning sessions, during which they each work with a student for one-on-one training. Students and staff have also received training from the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Franklin, Ind.
Narrow Gate students learn to create wooden bowls, platters, chalices, pens, ornaments, candlesticks and honey dippers in the wood shop. Through this shop, we aim to allow young men to work with their hands to learn basic wood-working and woodturning skills and, in the process, allow volunteer craftsmen to connect with our students. Woodturners have connected with individual students and gone on to help them with housing, employment, personal and spiritual matters. Passion for woodturning takes on eternal purpose when passed to the next generation and as products are created to benefit others.
The Metal Shop and Forge Event
Narrow Gate established our metal shop in 2010 with the desire to restore the metal-working craft to this property, which once held the community’s blacksmith shop. Our students have been trained by local and regional craftsmen, including Walter Howell of Walter's Forge, one of America's leading blacksmiths.
Our vision: For young men to learn to work with their hands in order to produce tools of function as well as works of art. Men with experience in metal work train our students, and in the process, relationships form between student and teacher that go beyond the walls of the metal shop. Narrow Gate’s metal shop melds our passion to raise up young men as godly leaders in society with the organization’s commitment to the arts as a means of connecting generations.
Every October, Narrow Gate holds a live metal forge event led by Abilene Christian University Professor Geoff Broderick, whose son, Taylor, graduated from Narrow Gate in 2008. The event, called Bluegrass, Barbeque and Blazing Metal, features a full day of activities on our property and concludes with a live metal pour during which we produce iron candleholders. With Broderick's assistance, Narrow Gate's students pour iron melted by the forge into sand casts of candleholders. We then give the proceeds to another ministry as a means of using the skills of Narrow Gate's men to impact local, regional and international causes.