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Building Furniture & Community for the Neighborhood

Daniel Baker runs a woodworking business out of his spare bedroom. As a friendly neighborhood carpenter, he hopes to build relationships with his neighbors through the furniture he crafts with his bare hands — without the use of any power tools.

He shares, “I think making something for someone is more than a financial transaction. It really helps to build a relationship of trust and mutual dependence and responsibility towards one another.”

Video Transcript

Meet Daniel Baker, neighborhood carpenter

Daniel Baker: This stuff literally grows on trees. And that’s just an amazing thing — that you kind of lose that connection when you just go to the lumberyard. It becomes a transaction rather than an experience of opening up a present.

(Looking at a section of a rough log)

Right here, I could probably get chair legs, nice walnut chair legs, out of this section. This might be the crest or the headrest of a chair. So that’s what that could be for, potentially.

I have noticed, and a lot of people have noticed, that there’s been an increase in interest in this sort of thing: stuff that’s well-made, but also not crazily priced. People want to purchase it because there’s just not that much of it out there. And people are beginning to appreciate quality a bit more. They’re tired of throwing away their furniture every five or 10 years. So I’d like to be the village carpenter who offers something different. And if I could just build relationships with a handful of folks here, that’s all the business I think I’d need or desire.

(Daniel polishes a bench seat)

So yeah, this is actually for my friends and neighbors with whom I lived for a while. They’re just catty-corner to us here, and so I’ll just walk this down the alley and drop off the two benches. And then when I finish the table, I’ll bring that over to them as well.

It’s part of being a good neighbor to make this well. And it helps keep me honest by making it for folks whom I know.

(Petting his dog)

He likes to lay in the shavings and then he takes them all over the house. So the couch often has shavings all over it. Yeah, right.

(Sitting at a table with his wife and daughter)

It helps with simplicity of life in kind of just a tightly knit, local community working close to home. And so I just want a job that allows me to keep family at the center of everything, while also putting my gifts and talents to work for little Eve.

And a woodworker — they’re there from the cradle to the coffin. So you walk beside people if you’re their village carpenter. You’re there often for a lot of the — even if only through your furniture — a lot of the milestones of their life.

(Knocking on the door of a home and speaking with a neighbor)

Hey.

Woman: Oh, hey.

Daniel: I’m here with the bench and film crew.

Woman: Thanks so much. I’m so excited. So we might be hosting Thanksgiving this year, so we’re especially excited.

Daniel: Oh, great. I’m really glad it’ll be able to get used for that.

I think making something for someone is more than a financial transaction. It really helps to build a relationship of trust and mutual dependence and responsibility towards one another.

(Looking at rough wood)

This is beautiful quarter — well, this is quarter-split, but they call it quarter-sawn oak. These beautiful stripes in it. So that’s what a lot of high-quality furniture is made with. And I just got it out of that log in the backyard that would have been mulch.

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