With his eye for design and love of building things, it was only natural for Michael Suggs to pick up woodturning as a hobby.
Earlier this year, the Ringgold resident turned it into a home-based business, MaD Wood Turning, and has since made a variety of hand-turned items, from Harry Potter-inspired wands to ink pens made from the Ohio oak tree featured in the movie "Shawshank Redemption."
While he never had any formal training other than a local class here and there, Suggs has developed his skills over time. He's used to working with his hands. He's spent the last several years supervising local mechanic shops.
But working with wood offers a different kind of satisfaction, and he has developed a great appreciation and love for the medium.
"Picture a kid at a candy store and the excitement," Suggs said. "It's just exciting to make something. When I make pepper grinders, I would make them as [identical] as possible to each other, but they would be unlike anything else I've ever turned before because [the grain is] all different. It's exciting to me to see what's inside that chunk of wood."
Suggs posts photos of his finished products on MaD Wood Turning's Facebook page, which doubles as a menu, per se, of what he can craft for clients. Otherwise, he encourages customers to make a request and he will let them know if he can accommodate it.
Even his standard ink pens are customizable, from the metal accents to the wood from which each is made.
A more notable wood Suggs has worked with comes from a very famous oak tree.
"In 'Shawshank Redemption,' the big oak tree where Andy left the little box of goodies for Red, well I have a few pieces of that tree and I've made a few ink pens out of it," Suggs said. "I have the certificate of authenticity from the property owner. [The tree] was damaged in a couple different storms and it finally had to be taken down. So they cut the tree up in different type pieces and I've got some ink pen blanks."
Suggs' day-to-day life is just as diverse as the eclectic mix of items he creates. Outside of his full-time job and his woodturning business, Suggs is a family man with several children and grandchildren, and is the road captain for the local Christian Motorcyclists Association and the ride captain for Patriot Guard Riders, which escorts veterans who died in action or of natural causes to their grave.
As of this holiday season, Suggs has picked up one more responsibility.
"I'm Santa Claus," Suggs said. "This is my first year doing it, and I'm actually getting to be a believer again. I've done a couple gigs in the community here and there."
To contact Suggs concerning any potential wood product requests, find him on Facebook at facebook.com/madwoodturning or call 423-595-8684.
Contact Sarah Turner at 423-757-6579.