Grit Blogs > News From The Nest In Rural Pennsylvania

A Tribute to Dad

A photo of Lori Dunn with pet squirrelsIt is official. My dad is out of the sawmilling business.

Wednesday, June 9th, the mill, and all the equipment that goes along with it, pulled out of the place it called home for 16 years!

I can say that I am both happy and sad.

Sawmill folded up  and ready to go

The sawmill

It has been a part of my family’s life for a long time, and although it hasn’t been his main source of income for a few years now, dad still sawed on occasion, either something he needed for himself, or some small amount of custom sawing for someone else.

Dad loading various sawmill items with my brother on the back of  the trailer to help guide him

Dad on loader moving log deck to be loaded onto trailer

My husband Jim in skid loader bringing more pieces to be  loaded

My husband Jim in skid loader  hauling motor that ran sawmill to be loaded on trailer

Running a sawmill is hard work, but satisfying work as well. I started working at the mill 16 years ago, when my dad purchased it. This was not his first mill, however. He had another mill for a time, before he got this one, so he has actually been at it longer.

Mom and Dad

My dad is a man of many talents. Before the mill, he was a logger, supplying logs for a larger mill operation, till he decided to try sawing for himself. Even before that, he was a mason contractor, and carpenter. He can pour a slab of concrete, lay up a block foundation, frame out a structure with lumber, and finish it inside and out, even building his own furniture, flooring, or laying up brick on the outside! He can even install and lay up a stone fireplace or hearth!

Dad working on fireplace mantle

Over the years, he has acquired much knowledge from a hands on type of approach, from a time period where you learn by watching, helping, and doing for yourself. My dad has no college degree, but, I would venture to say, he has more knowledge than a lot who have had schooling in the same field. But, Dad is now at a time in his life to slow down a bit. He is a craftsman and an artist, still working with wood. He has a woodshop, and builds anything from birdhouses and feeders, to larger pieces of furniture. If you can come up with it, he can make it for you.

A  bench and stool Dad made

Birdhouse with leather hinges

Handcrafted cutting boards

Double rocker with flower patterns woodburned on back

Headboard with mirror center and woodburned doors on sides

Rockers  with various wildlife woodburned

Picture frame

Wooden utensils and  coffe scoop

But to that, he adds his artistic touch. He wood burns on his items, anything you might want. Deer, turkey, elk, moose, any kind of wildlife, flowers, vines, leaves, acorns, trees, cabin scenes, are just a few of the things he has done. All of his work is done free hand, not with a stamp of any kind! He loves doing this work, and it is physically much easier on him than the mill work was, and that’s how it should be. He has made many of the pieces of furniture in my home, and I consider them to be heirlooms, worthy of handing down to my children and grandchildren someday!

Side view of African chest

Top view of African trunk

Boat paddle with woodburning of men in canoe

Fish storage box

Woodburned flower chest

Turkey chest

Woodburned duck box with carved duck head

Woodburned trinket boxes

Father’s Day has passed, now, but to my dad I say, Happy Father’s Day! I hope that I can acquire even half of the knowledge, talent, and ability that you have thus far! I Love You Dad!

7/13/2010 5:19:13 AM

Hi Cindy! I was thinking of you the other day! Every time someone mentions Michigan, you pop into my mind! Thanks for the compliments! I had a real hard time deciding which items to show in the blog. Dad has made so many things, people would be tired of looking at pictures if I put them all up!

cindy murphy
7/12/2010 8:41:49 PM

Lori! I've tried and tried but I just can't make up my mind which one of your Dad's pieces I like best. I love the chest with the flowers, the African animals, the cutting boards and utensils with vegetables on them, the oak leaves and acorn frame; I love oak trees! And oh, the bench with the farm scene is absolutely amazing. Everything is amazing! You've got one very talented Dad. Truly an artist. I'm sure his pieces will be treasured for generations and generations to come.

7/11/2010 9:20:49 AM

Hi Ashy! Mom called me after she read this, and she told me I made her cry too! It wasn't my intent to bring you all to tears, but she said they were good tears, so I guess it's OK! I am very blessed to have had both a Mother and Father in my life who have set wonderful examples for me! As Nebraska Dave mentioned in his comment, a lot of people aren't so fortunate to have both parents in their lives.

7/11/2010 9:13:35 AM

Nebraska Dave, It is a gift to be able to fix things on your own and keep them working! Your dad sounds very mechanically minded! A lot of people can't do that! They need to call a repairman to fix what's broken. "book learnin" is important, but there are a lot of things, such as you described of your father, that book learning can't teach. There is a special "knack" one must possess to be able to accomplish certain tasks! Your dad obviously has those qualities! I too was blessed with two Grandpas that were very much involved in I and my brother's lives. I was introduced to fishing by my paternal Grandpa. It was always a treat to get to go! I am also an eldest child, with one younger brother. He could be a real pain at times, but we've always had a good relationship, especially now that we're older. I can't believe you would have ever done anything worth tattling over?!? ;)

7/11/2010 8:58:06 AM

Pam, Thank you so much for the compliments, and for taking the time to comment! I hope your husband does try his hand at crafting something! It is so cool to start with a tree, saw it down to rough lumber, then turn it into a beautiful piece of furniture! Very satisfying!

7/10/2010 9:20:18 PM

Goodness...teary-eyed am I...what a beautiful tribute mom...Pappy really is a gem of a man. We are so blessed to have his hard-working, gifted example to help shine some light on a good way to live. Both of my grandparents are a joy to be around. They work hard and trust God to honor them and care for their needs...and God HAS honored them and cared for all of their needs...great and small. I'm thankful for the example they've set for a life well-lived...trusting God fully, blessing others abundantly, and working hard to learn and improve their skills, no matter what stage of life they are in. Thanks for this blog mom!!! It was wonderful!

nebraska dave
7/10/2010 12:50:33 PM

@Lori, you have quite the Dad. My Dad is great as well but at 84 he has slowed down quite a bit. He came from the farming community and although migrated to the big city still longed to live on a small acreage close to town. The thing I remember about my Dad was that he could fix anything with just a piece of baling wire and a pair of pliers. He never made it past 9th grade but could figure out how to build or repair anything. He had this uncanny way of knowing whether something would work or not. He wasn’t as creative or artistic as you Dad but he could keep things going on a nickel and a dime. Dads are the greatest thing and I feel very sad that many of our young boys in this generation don’t even know who there Dad is let alone have a relationship with him. I had two grandpas that were the greatest too. One taught me how to fish and the other owned a small town restaurant. Since I was the first grandchild on both sides of the family I had it made until my sister came along five years later. She stole the show right out from under me. Little girls win hands down over energetic five hear old boys. I got over it and we are the best of friends now even though I would lock her in the bathroom when she was bad. Bad was following me around and reporting to Mom every thing that I did. Not that I was ever doing anything bad you understand. :)

7/9/2010 5:31:44 PM

Hi Lori, When I saw your post I just had to go get my husband to look at it also. He has a sawmill here on the farm and has always wanted to find time to make furniture. Your Dad is a true artist!(My husband agrees) I just love all of your Dad's creations. I know you treasure the furniture he made for you and so will your children and their children. Have a great day. Pam Life on a Southern Farm

7/9/2010 5:31:35 PM

Hi Lori, When I saw your post I just had to go get my husband to look at it also. He has a sawmill here on the farm and has always wanted to find time to make furniture. Your Dad is a true artist!(My husband agrees) I just love all of your Dad's creations. I know you treasure the furniture he made for you and so will your children and their children. Have a great day. Pam Life on a Southern Farm