ROCKYTOP: Memories built from scratch

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POSTED: Friday, April 25, 2014 - 11:46am

UPDATED: Friday, April 25, 2014 - 11:47am

An East Texas man is creating beautiful pieces of furniture from scratch.

KETK's Chief Photographer William Bethancourt got a behind the scenes look at Rockytop Woodworks where we learn how Rick Hensley turns an eyesore of a tree, into a work-of-art to be cherished for generations.

"Rockytop has been in existence for about six to seven years," says Hensley. "It's my endeavor to create furniture pieces to supplement my income once I retire."

Hensley's desire is for people to have things that they can keep for the rest of their lives and hand down to their family. All he says he has to do is get the idea out of there heads of what exactly they're wanting and build form there. And that's what he's strives to do every single time.

"I have coined the phrase 'from the forest to your home' because I like taking the tree and harvesting the tree that's diseased," Hensley says. "I'll harvest trees that need to be taken down due to construction or whatever and we'll spend the day sawing lumber in various thicknesses and various widths."

Hensley then stacks it, stickers it and air-dries it. He moves it from the sticker pile to the lumber rack in the back of his custom-built shop. He then rips it and saws it, cut its and makes it into a piece of furniture.

"I just can't see paying someone to do something that I can do myself," claims Hensley. "You know, having satisfied customers about you is the best advertisement you can have. I've yet to have an unsatisfied customer and I've got a lot of pieces out there now. I feel like I need to give them the best I can and I'm never totally satisfied with a piece when I get through with it. I never am, but when the customer comes or when I deliver it or they come and they pick it up and then they look at it and their eyes light up, they just they have a look of amazement on their faces."

Hensley says it's very satisfying even if he 'loses his britches on a job.' Nearly every piece he does is a learning experience for him. Very seldom does he repeat building anything.

"It's always a challenge for me and I guess I like the challenge because I very seldom back up from a job," says Hensely. "If you want it and I think I can do it then we'll try to get a price on it and get the job done. People like to know and see something that's not quite perfect, but it was hand-made. It wasn't made in a machine, it wasn't made in China or Taiwan or anywhere else. It was made right here in East Texas, at Rockytop."

Hensley built his woodworking shop and even his own home with his bare hands.

If you want to see more of his work or sanction him for a project of your own, visit his website by click here.

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