My name is Dave Carlson.
All my life I’ve been building and repurposing things. My younger brother and I also goofed around dad’s workshop – sawing wood and hammering nails. At birthday parties we had contests to see who could drive a nail into a piece of wood in the least amount of hits.
In high school, I delivered furniture after school for an antique store. I carried heavy pieces of furniture at their estate sales on the weekend (I like to say I was dumb but strong).
After college, my first piece of furniture was something I bought, not built. I bought a buffet converted to a desk at a yard sale. It was a bit ornate for a 23-year-old guy but I liked it.
When I was back visiting my family in Michigan, I’d do some refinishing. I had bought a desk but could never get back to my place in Nebraska. My mom hijacked it to use in her kitchen. My parents were gone for a few days so I decided to surprise them by refinishing the desk.
I was on the phone with them a few days later and told them what I was doing. They weren’t too happy to hear my news since they had just paid $350 to have it refinished. Oops!
I couldn’t tell it had been refinished because there was goop in crevices and the top was splotchy. It looked much better when I was done with it.
In the meantime, I moved to California and got a girlfriend. She had an oak rocker in several pieces, so I refinished it and gave it to her on her birthday. Three months later I gave her a box I refinished. Inside was an engagement ring. That girlfriend became my wife, and we’ve been married now for 31 years.
My First Woodworking Class
I started building my skills by taking woodworking classes over the years at local colleges.
I used my skills to start repurposing furniture — I made end tables out of a desk, used fence slats to make headboards, and turned a piano into a wine bar.
I met Carrie Nelson, the owner of 4 Chicks Furniture, and planed a piece of live edge wood at her workshop. I told her if she ever needed a part-time worker, I would love to help.
Two weeks later one of her workers moved and another one just quit showing up so she offered a job.
I learned how to plan, cut, sand, stain, finish and assemble a variety of pieces. We built pieces in the workshop and then installed them in clients’ homes. We made tables, entertainment centers, bars, mantels, and kitchen islands.
I started making more things on the side while working there, fortunate to have a great workshop to build in.
My friend has a ranch near Winter Park, Colo. She and her husband tore down a dilapidated building and had a big pile of rustic wood they needed to get rid of. I was more than happy to cart away two big loads in the back of my pickup.
I used much of that wood in the first big project for my own fledgling company. My client, Jaime, had several projects for me. I built and installed six barn doors, an accent wall, two cocktail tables attached to the wall, a built-in bathroom vanity, and built-in shelves.
My biggest repurposing project was converting a non-working piano into a desk. Neil asked me to build a desk to honor his wife who died the previous summer. Nobody in the house played the piano and it had sentimental value. I love collaborating with clients so I invited him to my workshop to see the work in progress. We came up with several improvements to the design. He had tears of joy when I delivered it to his home.
I also started building large wooden signs out of old fence slats. I would use images from old hotel and restaurant signs here in Denver.
I’ve sold several of my signs to Rare Finds, a furniture store here in Denver. They have rustic and repurposed furniture made overseas and also sell pieces made by local artists and artisans. I helped open their second store and did some furniture repair for them, too.
Where I Am Today
Today I am still repurposing furniture, making signs, and building custom furniture. I have several projects going on in my workshop right now.
I’ve been building relationships with other woodworkers in town and even using my web design skills to build websites for other woodworkers in Connecticut and Florida.
I build one-of-a-kind furniture and wall art that my clients will cherish for years.
Let’s talk sometime about ideas for projects you have in mind. I love repurposing furniture and working with repurposed materials.
Just give me a call.