by Tom Dooley

I believe that antique furniture restoration is much like life. At conception we are the Creators greatest masterpiece, but as we grow and become indoctrinated in this world, that masterpiece often becomes tarnished and abused and the beautiful work of the master’s hand his hidden.

Then as we become aware of the masterpiece within, we begin to be shown how to restore that masterpiece the Creator created you to be. And as you begin to strip away the debris of days gone by, the beauty and glow hidden within begins to emerge.

It is that way with the antique furniture I restore. It comes to me beaten, abused and abandoned, and if I listen, it will tell me how to bring it back to life as the original craftsman made it to be. The results are stunning. It glows with beauty and purpose.

My Name is Tom Dooley and I am a master furniture/cabinet maker and I have been working and crafting wood for over 35 years.

I have grown over the years to recognize and understand the spiritual meaning, vision and understanding of the project I am working on and generate the highest level of happiness I can with what I do and who I am. I live by the fundamental belief that if I protect and serve the wellbeing of others then my wellbeing will be served as well.


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Woodworking is just as much a spiritual endeavor as a physical one. I have found from experience there are 2 energies that define how a piece will present itself to the world. A spiritual understanding which is the highest meaning and a lower meaning influenced by utility and economy.  When you put the sole emphasis on the spiritual understanding the utility and economy works itself out and the greatest good is served. It is that inner knowing that sees the greatest need of all.

For example, this piece was commissioned as a room divider for a local adult daycare center. The original design was based upon an inexpensive unit at a local furniture store. However, as I began to sketch out the design, I began to see something greater. I began to see that this piece was for the people who come to the daycare center. That just because their consciousness awareness is different than ours because of dementia, brain damage or some other illness, that doesn`t mean they cannot see Gods love for them in all things. This cabinet is the representation of the vision I received for that cabinet.

Although this cabinet required way more time, and expense, and ruffled a few egos in the process. When I delivered this piece, I was greeted by many of the residence and staff admiring and touching this piece. I had one residence tell me how this piece reminded him of a time before his accident that him and his brother used to do woodworking together. I could see his eyes well up as he told me the story, and tightly gripping my hand. It took all the composure I had to hold it together.



This mantel is the most cherished piece I have ever done for a client. Once upon a time in my career, I was doing custom mantel pieces for a local fireplace store, and I got a call from this lovely elderly lady who had purchased a mantle from the store and was calling me to finalize the details.

Usually I go to the client’s home and meet them, but the lady lived a ways away and it was decided we would chat via the phone, since our schedules clashed and made it difficult to meet. During our conversations I would ask various questions, and some just to get to know the personality of my client.

On our final conversation I saw a vision of what her mantel should look like vs. the one she picked at the store. I had sensed in earlier conversations that she wasn’t real tickled with the one she picked, but it was the closest that met her budget and needs. So I told her I saw what her fireplace mantel should look like and asked if she trusted me enough to do that instead of the one she picked for the same money.

She agreed and it was discovered that she worked a block from my shop and would meet a week later to see a mockup of the final mantel. The first picture is the mockup I created for my client. When my client came to the shop she gave me a great big hug and told me what I blessing I was to her, and when I showed her the mock up, and she began to cry, and told me that was exactly what she wanted her fireplace to look like.

The second picture is the finished piece in her home. She had me take a bunch of pictures and sign the mantle. I stopped to visit her a few weeks later to give her a picture, which I am told she carried with her and told everyone about that mantel.
A couple of years later I learned through a chance  meeting of a coworker that my client had cancer at the time we did that mantel, and had went into remission, until a couple of years later she passed from cancer. I am told this lady cherished and received so much happiness and joy from having this fireplace mantel in her life. I left wonder how I could ever top that in my career. That is the highest compliment and demonstration of service I felt I could ever do.




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