Westside carpenter creates furniture from burn areas

       If you want furniture made from a tree that burned in the Waldo Canyon or Black Forest fires, Mitchell Dillman is your man.

A bench that Mitchell Dillman hand-carved from burned trees.
Courtesy of Mitchell Dillman

       Operating from the Midland-area lumber yard started over a half-century ago by the late Fran Staggs, Dillman also sells kits for people wanting to create/assemble their own chairs, benches, tables, rockers etc., from kits he's put together using metal supports he's welded.
       But it figures that the endeavor bringing him the most joy also is the one that makes him the least money - and that's working with people who saw their trees go up in flames along with their houses.
       He's learned that fire does not typically burn all the way through trees. Even though they're dead and charred, beneath the bark remains solid lumber that even needs to be cured six weeks because otherwise it's too green to work on.
       Once the wood is ready, he shapes the logs into furniture - often customized to fire victims' wishes - using various woodworking tools and then attaches them to his metal supports.
       “The return I get is the joy I see when I bring their wood back to them,” Dillman said.
       He first got the reuse idea after the 2003 Hayman Fire when he was involved with clearing out the burned trees. “I built a lot of log homes in Teller County,” he said.

With several of his metal furniture supports hanging above, Dillman is shown in his workshop in the Midland area.
Westside Pioneer photo

       When the Waldo Canyon Fire swept through Mountain Shadows last June, Dillman's first reaction was “shock,” he said. But then he started thinking, “I've got to let the neighbors know we can do something with those trees.”
       He said he's worked with about 30 families from Mountain Shadows and “so far 6 to 10 in Black Forest.”
       His goal is to partner with one or more other businesses so as to make his efforts for fire victims more affordable. A plus that the former college communications major brings to the table is the audience of about 10,000 that he said he's developed for his weekly youtube.com video that tells about the work he does.
       For more information, go to logfurniturehowto.com.

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