WORDS / KRISTEN HOOVER
PHOTO / KAT WILSON
Andy Baugus knew he always wanted to be a woodworker. His opportunity finally came when he grew tired of hearing the diesel engine of his backhoe after a big wind storm in Arkansas in 1989. Baugus was employed in construction at the time and was supposed to be taking the downed trees to a site off of Happy Hollow Road when he thought, “I’ve heard this damn tractor for 15 years; it’s time to do something else.” Baugus began taking the fallen giants to his Goshen property where he would store them until he had the means necessary to give them a second life.
2nd Life Wood is a collection of handcrafted tables, headboards, and bookcases created from salvaged wood. The collection sits impressively in a showroom built by Baugus on the same property as his woodshop, which he also built. Caked in sawdust and stacks of table slabs, his workshop is the place where Baugus first learned his craft. During the day he designed, created and transformed salvaged wood into remarkable handcrafted tables. When he got tired, he retired to his reliable recliner and wood-burning stove to read about different types of wood and their particular natures. He began to favor indigenous hardwood trees from Arkansas like white oaks and learned that cherry is not a “well-behaved wood”. He lived in that shop working 100 hours a week, experimenting and learning until he ran out of money to do so. “I remember times when I just had absolutely no money. I remember surviving off of popcorn and having to go over to my neighbor’s for a sandwich,” Baugus says.
Now, he boasts a self-sustaining property. When he decided to bring home those first downed trees, he only had an Alaskan chainsaw mill. But with a little help from his father and the bank, he was able to purchase the rest of the tools he needed all at once from an auction. After that, people started calling Baugus to tell him about dead or fallen trees that they wanted removed. His collection of salvaged wood grew, but his funds remained the same so he started selling his collection. “I wanted to sell the tables from the get-go, but it took years and years. There were times when I would have to work for a man named Bob Gilmore, mostly building houses and other carpentry jobs for six months at a time. At the end of the six months, I’d go back to the shop and create more, then when the money was gone, I’d just call up Bob Gilmore again,” Baugus said with a laugh. After 15 years of keeping at it, 2nd Life Wood is now steadily growing.
Through a process of trial-and-error, Baugus’ collection and carpentry skills improved. Baugus discovered the slabs needed to dry for three years at a time due to the Arkansas humidity. He innovated a system to smooth out worn wood without a thickness planer and still prevent the warping and bowing of the slabs that can sometimes happen when working with wood. He tested different oils and decided that tongue oil is best. Through these experiments, Baugus learned the best practices to ensure the original beauty of the wood is maintained.
Through Baugus’ perseverance in the face of adversity, the 2nd Life Wood collection can be shared with the world. Each piece of furniture is beautifully crafted and unique in its own way. Anyone lucky enough to own a piece of furniture from 2nd Life Wood, has a little piece of Baugus too.