Doug Poyntz is a self taught woodworker who takes barnboard and makes it beautiful. His custom furniture is designed to your requirements and built to last a lifetime.
Check out the photogallery to see many of his finished pieces. You can also see his furniture on Holmes on Homes TV series with a special guest appearance on "Just for Annie" where he creates the kitchen island from the properties existing barnboard.
History of project
Woodworker returns to his 'Roots'
The Independent & Free Press
When is comes time to tear down a tired barn to make way for future development, someone picks up those pieces- literally- and breathes some country life back into them.
The barn boards that are salvaged from these barns are taken to a workshop on Township road 11 outside Ayr and transformed into stunning furniture with an unmistakable country charm.
"I suppose I'm doing my part for recycling," said Doug Poyntz, the mastermind behind A Piece of the Past Woodworking.
It all started as a project when a friend asked Poyntz to make a table out of barn board.
"I started playing around with it about 15 years ago. A friend had an idea for a table made from barn board," said Poyntz. "I needed to find something a little different and the barn board was perfect."
Barn board furniture is quite distinct since the wood used is no longer made. The barns that Poyntz gets his wood from are about a century old and the wood taken from them is over 200 years old.
"The trees they used to build the barns had to have been a least 100 years old," said Poyntz. "That wood is unique. It holds a lot of history and character. A lot of people love the look of it."
Although he also works with clean material such as maple and oak, Poyntz's specialty is barn board and the finished product is one that his customers prefer.
"A lot of people don't want mass production furniture," said Poyntz'. "They want real wood with good, quality craftsmanship."
The wood that Poyntz rescues is often pine, hemlock and occasionally chestnut. Barns were crafted from whatever type of wood was on the property at the time.
"Most people think of the old grey board that they see when the barn is standing. "But really that's not what it's like at all.",said Doug
The boards require a little love and care before they are ready to be crafted.
Once the wood is removed from the barn Poyntz power washes the boards, removes all the nails, runs it through a planer, replaces the nails and varnishes the whole board over. The wood needs about 10 coats of varnish for the finished product.
"There's a trick because you can't plane the wood too far or it will look like clean wood like what you would find at Home Depot," said Doug. "If you plane it lightly it keeps all of the character."
The primary tools needed to get the job done are radial arm saw, jointer, planer, table saw, biscuit joiner and sanders.
Once the varnishing is done the crafting begins. The self-taught woodworker creates mainly custom pieces for his customers.
"Everyone has different taste. Someone may want a different size or colour than someone else," said Poyntz. "Sometimes people want the wood more rustic, others want it cleaner. They also want something that's going to fit just right in their home."
His growing list of completed furnishings include harvest tables, mirrors, end tables, hall tables, coffee tables, headboard, and entertainment unit. Poyntz has also crafted cabinets for kitchens.
Prices vary depending on width, length and how thick the wood needs to be and are reasonable given all the hard work and dedication that goes into a finished product.
A typical harvest table takes about one week to construct and one week to varnish. That calculates to about 53 hours for the average table.
"There's really no mark-up. There's no middle man here so we pass our savings onto our customers," said Doug.
The Poyntz' started by taking furniture to fairs and craft sales. There seemed to be a great interest in the work, but given the venue the pieces were too large and expensive.
"The last five or six years I've gone gung-ho at it," said Poyntz. "Once you start building the stuff it really gets into you. I see something and think to myself I can do one better."
When Poyntz first started out he was working out of his garage and basement. Last year they decided to build a workshop on the front of their property.
"So far it's been the right move," said Poyntz.
"We don't really do much advertising. It's mostly word of mouth and people seeing the sign as they drive by the shop," said Poyntz.
Word of Poyntz' work caught wind and made it all the way to Mike Holmes from the Holmes on Homes television show.
"Mike came by our place, took a look and was really very impressed," said Poyntz. “We’ve done work for three shows and Mike has some of the furniture himself."
Impressing a perfectionist like Holmes is something to be proud of. Rural Roots Woodworking is also featured on the Holmes on Homes website.Rural Roots Woodworking is now called A Piece Of The Past Woodworking.
"The more product that goes out, the more word of mouth there is.
And that's why it has to be done to perfection,". "No cutting corners here. If it's not good enough for my house, it's not good enough to go out."said Doug
Perhaps that's why Holmes took such a liking to A Piece Of The Past Woodworking.
Poyntz isn't messing around when it comes to perfection. He once burned a table after two weeks of working on it.
"It just didn't turn out right. So I burned it. The remake was great though," said Poyntz.
It takes a lot of work but it's still only a hobby. After working 60-hour weeks as a service manager at John Deere, Poyntz doesn't have a lot of time but he looks forward to coming home and working in the shop.
"This is by no means a job but it's definitely a full-time, rewarding hobby," said Poyntz. "It's relief from the stress of the day. I come home and do my woodworking and just mellow out."
The most rewarding part of this hobby is revealing the finished product to the new owner.
"Once you do the product and see the reaction it's very rewarding," said Poyntz. "It's definitely the most rewarding part."
"Because the work is custom you are never 100 pre cent sure of what will come out. There is a bit of surprise there," said Doug.
A recent rewarding project was for a family who tore down a wall of their house to renovate a more open concept. The wood from the wall was taken and crafted into a table for the new addition.
"It means something to them," said Doug. "It's the look on their face. The awe that they have something that means that much."
Some come knocking on Poyntz's door when a local barn is going to be taken down because they have fond memories of the area and want to cherish it by having their own piece of barn board furniture.
"It means something to them to know where the wood is coming from," said Poyntz.
The fact that the wood being used comes from local barns means something to the creator too.
"I just love to create these things," said Poyntz. "When it comes to the barn board I feel like I'm carrying on part of our heritage. I hate seeing them being torn down but if it's going to happen then I'd like to make use of the wood."
With more than a century of local heritage, some of the barns are still in wonderful working condition but are torn down anyway to make way for new homes. A handful of these barns are actually burned to the ground even though they are still in good condition and the wood can be used.
"It's saving something that's going to be destroyed," said Poyntz.
And with all the development that's engulfing the area it's a fine way to preserve the heritage that's being lost.
Poyntz has contacts to inform him of when a barn is set to be demolished and is quick to put his bid in on the wood.
"With the onset of all the building going on and the purchase of barns there's a lot of wood going around," said Poyntz.
Sometimes it is tough for a little guy like Poyntz to actually get the wood since it is also used by big corporations for hardwood flooring and in chic restaurants in the cities..
"With my 9-5 job there's not a lot of time to really relax," said Poyntz as he points over his shoulder to the workshop. "I found something not too many people do and I love to do it. It's something I'd like to do full-time once I'm ready to retire."
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