Making Do…A Tale of ‘Yankee’ Ingenuity

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Hurricane Irene paid a visit to our neck of the woods this weekend, but luckily for us, she left our street more-or-less intact.  I hope everyone in New England is safe and dry as we attempt to clean up and rebuild what the hurricane tore down.  I was glad to have this week’s post completed before the storm hit, because we spent most of the weekend squirreled away, trying to entertain our toddler!  Not an easy feat.
Anyway…onto the good stuff.  My parents have a cottage in Northern Michigan, on a small, lakeside dirt road.  Every single person on the lane inspires me with their creativity, whether it be their gardening skills, culinary aptitude, or woodworking talents.Dean Mitchell is one of those neighbors….a self taught woodworker, creating ingenious, useful items out of recycled goods, such as a set of old church pews, or discarded scrap wood.I was completely charmed by the coat rack that he made out of the still-intact oars and oar locks of a rotted-out rowboat.  When his wife, Karen, asked him to make something for the entryway, he took inventory of what they had laying around the garage, and decided that these would make the perfect coat hanger.  The result is absolute perfection…and it encouraged me to give the items laying around my garage a second look, before rendering them useless.  I am always amazed at the creativity that comes about as a result of necessity.In addition to the oar coat rack, I was also pretty taken with the chess set Dean turned using reclaimed wood, and the gorgeous benches that he made by cutting down a row of church pews.  Although he resides in Michigan, I think Dean is the perfect example of good ole’ Yankee ingenuity…wouldn’t you agree?

  • Dean,

    Sara sent me your site and am positively impressed by what you do…can’t wait
    to show it to my husband to get him inspired in his workshop. Oh, and the “chess set”
    is perfection! Enjoyed looking at everything you’ve done. Thanks to Sara for sharing! Take good care!!!
    Nancy Baugh, Mobile AL

  • Good job Dean, looks great! I have a garage and pole barn full of stuff (Karen calls it junk) that you’re welcome to for your projects. Only problem is it’s in Minnesota!

    Take care,

    Bill Roberts


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