HANNIBAL, Mo. - What started as a hobby five years ago has turned into a full-time business for Mike Moore as he builds custom furniture from reclaimed lumber.
Each piece is crafted by hand, giving every item a special identity to go with its story of a past life. He makes tables and cupboards, and turns porch posts into table legs.
"I use anything architectural off of a house to create one-of-a-kind items," Mr. Moore said.
Starting out in his garage, he now has a 6,000-square-foot shop, John Michael Originals, where he does his wood crafting and conducts business. He also buys and sells to antique dealers in the South.
Mr. Moore said he has always had an interest in antiques and started taking items to a large flea market in Canton, Texas, where there were thousands of vendors.
"I noticed what other people were doing, building furniture out of home salvage, and I decided to take it to a different level," he said. "I was impressed with it, but I felt it could be done better, and so I started experimenting. When I got the right colors, I started building furniture and made it look almost like old furniture. People like the aged lumber and the imperfections in it.
"It can fool you if you don't know what to look for. It has fooled many people, although I tell them it is a reproduction.''"
Selling to high-end niche and antique stores, he has also opened a retail store in St. Louis called Three French Hens.
"I have sold to many celebrities and sports figures," Mr. Moore said. "I think my competition is limited because of the amount of work that goes into this. Not everyone wants to do it."
John Michael Originals is available at www.johnmichaeloriginals.com.