Welcome to the Dungeon with Tone Cuttin’ Up
Antonio “Tone Cuttin’ Up” Trussell calls his woodworking shop “The Dungeon” and he’s not far off.
While walking down into the small basement of his Southside Milwaukee home, he is met with the wafts of lumber, lacquer and laundry. Spotlights illuminate his projects in the dimly lit chamber. From handcrafted Bucks and Brewers wall pieces to castle beds and giant Jordan shoe boxes, his projects are a reflection of his creativity and craftsmanship.
Although he only can work in half of the basement, he makes the best of what he’s got—he hails from a family that enjoyed getting their hands dirty. Across from his small work bench sits hand-painted cigar boxes, trophies and children’s wall pieces ranging from superheroes to sports teams.
Trussell was 10-years-old when he discovered woodworking.
“My friends hated me in school, they’d be like, ‘how did you get into woodshop again?’” Trussell said. “Music and other classes weren’t my niche, but I always got A’s in woodshop because of my creativity and wanting to finish a project for that ‘wow’ effect when people saw it.”
It was the satisfaction feeling that pushed Trussell to pursue other skills like becoming a licensed barber and a personal chef, but he was always woodworking.
It wasn’t until he was at one of the lowest points of his life when woodworking would finally become his career path. Trussell received his degree in cabinetry while serving a two-year sentence for a theft at the Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution.
“When I was in there, I knew I wasn’t going to be playing cards with those knuckleheads all day, and I found something for me to do. I was there every day, out of my room and out of the way from the guys that had no focus, and I graduated,” he said.
He walked the stage in his cap and gown while in prison and it completely changed his outlook on life.
When he returned home, he was focused but life came pretty quickly. As money became tight, he eventually sold around $5,000 worth of his tools.
“Ever since then, there’s really nothing uniform about my tools. People have just been blessing me with a piece here and there. I’m at a point where I have the basics to get some projects done and get money for better tools,” Trussell said.
In between doing hair, cooking and working on-and-off part-time jobs, he continued to pump out projects for his business, Knock on Wood Designs.
“I’m not going to stop, I just have to keep working, get better tools, get into a small garage or building and continue to grow,” Trussell said.
He considers himself a pretty gimmicky guy, and can predict trends pretty well, but he said when it comes to building projects, he loves to make people’s ideas come to life.
His creative take on bigger furniture pieces has set his social media ablaze. After posting several Bucks pieces during the playoff run, and a children’s castle bed, orders started coming in.
“I went from four to five ‘likes’ to almost 173 in the amount of time it took after posting,” Trussell said. “I won’t reject any order because I’ll knock it out no matter what and once likes turn into orders, we’ll be alright.”
As a craftsman he continues to create but as businessman, he’s just beginning. Along with Knock on Wood Designs, Trussell has 11 other business ventures he hopes to launch.
“As an entrepreneur, you have some gruesome hours of getting your business off the ground and this is my grunting period and I’m at the beginning stages,” he said.
This first step in his entrepreneurship includes building a snack and water cart to pull around the neighborhood with his kids. He is hoping to raise around $10,000 by the end of the Summer. His ultimate goal is to give back to his community—Trussell wants to create jobs then eventually give safety and woodworking lessons to the youth.
“I’m trying to make it, and I’m trying to bring a crew with me and provide jobs. I can’t own and operate 11 different businesses, but I can hire some people and give other opportunities. The main goal is to just pay it forward,” he said.
“I’ve done some damage in my life and I’m learning from it, and the best thing in my power is to set up opportunity to be better and give others a chance,” Trussell added.
For more information on Tone Cuttin’ Up and Knock on Wood designs visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tone.cuttinup.