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A New Leaf

FORT WAYNE, IND. (WPTA21)-“Started woodworking probably when I was ten by building a tree house,” recalls furniture restorer Dave Terrill, “with a old rusty hammer and rusty saw.”

The rusty tools are long gone but Dave Terrill’s lifelong love for working with wood and restoring antique furniture remains. And his love of a challenge.

The pieces I enjoy the most are the ones that are damaged the most…in the worst shape,” he says. “Just for the challenge.”

Dave Terrill can take a pile of broken or rotted wood pieces and restore them to the elegant furniture they once were. This example was destroyed in a flood, made whole again by a master craftsman.

Maybe when I’m restoring a set of chairs the first one I want to tackle is the worst one,” he says, “’cause that’s just more fun to me and the rest of them are boring.”

It’s rare to meet anyone who loves his job more though Dave took his time finding it. He’s trained as an electrical engineer, worked 24 years for Magnavox. Laid off in 1993 he searched for another occupation and found it when he stumbled upon the remains of an antique roll top desk in an abandoned chicken coop.

Had a beehive behind the roll had dead rats in the drawers,” he says.

He restored the desk, still has it in fact and went on to found Dave Terrill Furniture Repair. And some of his restorations border on the miraculous; missing or rotted parts sculpted by hand so masterfully they disappear in the piece they’re part of. Terrill’s reputation for excellence is so compelling people flock to him with their damaged treasures. He turns about a third of them down. And when he’s not restoring wooden gems he’s making them, his home is filled with his hand carved fish and fowl so lifelike you expect them to take flight or swim off. At age 76 Dave Terrill gives no thought to retirement. How can you retire he says from a job that isn’t work?

I can work at my hobby and get paid for it,” he says. “If you really enjoy what you’re doing you’re not working. This is all play!”

Eric Olson reporting for Your Story Made Here.

Eric Olson

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