The ReStore recently received a rare find: beautiful oak and maple rough-sawn planks. For $1 a square foot, this lumber’s a steal. And it’s all thanks to Dick H.
Dick is one of those people who is quote-unquote “retired.” He built a company from the ground up, creating wildlife transmitters and tracking systems that are now used worldwide. But after retiring, it seems like he hardly slowed down. Retirement has simply given him more time for many things, including his favorite hobby: woodworking.
“I don’t sit down and watch tv!” Dick says, laughing, when asked how he has the time to do so much. “I’m very active in natural resources and everything that has to do with wood.”
Rocking horses. Adirondack chairs. Artisanal boxes. Duck decoys. You name it, Dick’s probably made it. And 95% of the items he creates are donated to charities like Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, the Ruffed Grouse Society, and a local hospital. But when so many would prefer to only sell their creations, why does he donate?
“I’ve done very well in life,” Dick says, “and I don’t need the money. I enjoy woodworking, and I’m happy to give back.”
And it’s not just woodworking—Dick cuts down his own wood or gets it from friends. Oak and Aspen from his property in Pine County. Walnut and Cedar from a friend in Missouri. If the wood’s discolored, all the better—it’ll make a beautiful box or chair.
Dick has a band saw mill, so he creates long rough-sawn boards from logs. Then he stacks and strips them, and puts stickers between the layers of wood to allow it all to air dry. From there, he puts it in a curing shed. Then, it’s ready to use. And what he doesn’t use, he donates to the ReStore.
Dick’s actually never set foot in either the New Brighton or Minneapolis Twin Cities Habitat ReStore locations (he hopes to, someday). That’s because the ReStores have a truck that can go anywhere in the seven-county metro area to pick up big donations. Whenever Dick has a big batch of rough-sawn wood dried and ready for sale, a ReStore truck driver and volunteer come out to Dick’s place, load it up, and take it out. This high-quality, beautiful wood goes on sale for a lot less than you’d find elsewhere.
"I get excited whenever I get a phone call from Dick about an upcoming donation," says Robin Henrichsen, who manages all donations to the two ReStores. "The driver and helper love to make the trip to pick up the rough-sawn boards and the shoppers scoop up this great quality product for their DIY projects. Thank you to Dick for inspiring us to be creative and giving back."
In addition to his material donations, Dick has a created a fund through the University of Minnesota for graduate students, PhD students, and post-docs—to be used strictly for field studies, not computer simulations. He wants folks to be able to get out in the world, study, and explore, like he still does.
Visit ReStores and you might be inspired to take on a woodworking project of your own. In fact, the ReStore team was already inspired to take on their own project—check out the tape measure/key holder they created from the rough-sawn wood and repurposed hooks.