BEMIDJI -- Stacks of unfinished cornhole boards pile high in the garage as Isaiah Bitter works on another set nearby.

“Right now, I’m about three weeks out,” he says.

That’s the reality for Bitter this summer, neck-deep in the busiest season of Isaiah’s Woodwork to date. Not that that’s a bad thing.

“In the summer, it’s a full-time thing. I’d like to see it become a full-time thing year 'round,” the Bemidji native said. “I don’t even look at it as work. It’s just something I enjoy and something that’s fun to do.”

Bitter started Isaiah’s Woodwork in 2014 -- at age 14 -- and has grown it into a local hot bed for cornhole boards. He also offers his services for other woodworking projects like picnic tables and decks, but cornhole is his bread and butter.

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The trade began when his oldest brother graduated from high school, and Bitter requested permission to craft a picnic table for the celebration. He posted the finished product on social media, and the response came as a common voice.

“People said I should try selling them,” Bitter said. “I started posting them on Facebook sale sites. And that’s how I started.”

His first summer wasn’t a busy one. He estimates he sold two sets of cornhole boards. This summer, though, that total has soared well into triple digits.

Isaiah Bitter looks over a design still to be placed on one of his cornhole board orders. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Isaiah Bitter looks over a design still to be placed on one of his cornhole board orders. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“I never expected or dreamed it or imagined it,” Bitter said. “Just to see how much people like my products and the quality, enjoy it and tell their friends about it, it’s just amazing.”

Bitter doesn’t invest in advertising, instead relying on social media pages and word of mouth. His Facebook page, Isaiah’s Woodwork, has over 6,800 likes, and an Instagram page of the same name has nearly 1,000 followers.

“It’s been a really good response from the community,” Bitter said. “Everyone loves them. I’ve never had a complaint. A lot of people are starting to say that they saw so-and-so’s board, so that’s how they got my name and contact info.”

When Bitter began, he had three tools in his repertoire. But as demand has increased tenfold, a collection of a jigsaw, a hand saw and a power drill has grown into a full-fledged operation.

“When I started this, I had no idea what I was doing,” he admitted. “As I progressed, I started buying newer, better tools. Having the new equipment, I was able to do things differently and make things better, make things faster.

“Over the years, especially with the cornhole boards, I’ve learned different techniques. It’s all been self-taught, pretty much. … After you do stuff over and over again, you get better at it and know what to do.”

Bitter can customize the boards to a design of the customer’s choosing. He outsources the graphic designs and has them printed through Amity Graphics, and then he puts them on the board himself.

The price is $250 for a set of cornhole boards, or $285 with bags included.

As a project management major at Bemidji State University, Bitter has two years left before he earns his degree. In the meantime, he’s got a stack of cornhole boards in the garage to help keep him occupied.

“It doesn’t even seem like work,” Bitter said. “I’ve had people pick up their boards, and they cry because they love it so much. It’s cool to see that. Providing something they can use for a long time, get enjoyment from and have fun with, I just really enjoy it.”