Carbonear man repurposing hurricane Lry tree damaginto wooden keepsakes

Marc Cooper lawyer by day, woodworker by night says his roots are in the sawmill

Nicholas Mercer Multimedia JournalistPosted: Sept. 15, 2021, 3:41 p.m. Updated: Sept. 16, 2021, 2:08 p.m. 7 Min Read

Amongst the other items Marc Cooper has made, rings are slowly starting to become more popular. – Contributed

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CARBONEAR, N.L. Marc Cooper may spend his days surrounded by court documents, but hes truly at home with a pile of sawdust at his feet.

The 38-year-old Carbonear-based lawyers day job feeds his hobby.

When hes out of the courtroom he can be found in his 4,000-square-foot workshop, built near his cabin in the Trinity Bay South community of Spread Eagle, where he turns pieces of wood into things like rings, bar tops and pens.

Im a lawyer by day, but you might say I grew up in a sawmill, said Cooper.

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The sawmill belonged to his grandfather, Alfred Cooper, who had several around the Trinity Bay South area. His grandson often worked in the mills.

Sawmills are sort of my home territory, said Cooper.

Marc Cooper finds that pens have been one of the more popular items people look for when they give him pieces of lumber for him to work on. – Contributed

It stuck with him over the years, and when he purchased his grandfathers old cabin property in Spread Eagle, he put in a professional workshop, along with a kiln for drying wood and the rest of the tools he needs to turn lumber into intricate items.

It is a hobby and it is a lot of fun, he said.

For the last several years, Cooper has been making items for friends, colleagues and clients out of pieces of wood he finds or is given.

Getting the wood out is something that Ive slowly learned is an art form itself, said Cooper. Figuring out where the cut lines should be, figuring out what is the best way to draw out the prettiest piece of wood from this block.

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Richard Collins has a fountain pen and matching letter opener in his Bay Roberts office that was a gift from Cooper. Both were made of 5,000-year-old bog wood that Cooper had brought in.

I really appreciate it. It is one of the most unique things that I have ever owned, Collins said.

Collins is also the chairperson of the Ascension Collegiate auction committee. Cooper usually donates pieces of his work to the auction, whether that be pens or knives. They always sell well and are a popular item, Collins said.

Marc is fantastic, said Collins. He is a lawyer by profession, but he has an undeniably, uncharacteristically good aptitude for woodworking. He is one of these very creative people.

Carbonear lawyer Marc Cooper shows off just a few of the cufflinks hes made out of wood that he keeps in his office. Cooper recently put out a call for junks of wood in the wake of Hurricane Larry. – Nicholas Mercer

In the aftermath of hurricane Larry, Cooper made a social media post asking anyone who had a tree fall in their yard to contact him. He was offering to turn some of that fallen wood into a special memento, like a bowl or pen. The only requirement is that the trees are at least 12 inches in diametre, big enough so he could cut out some long nugs. They need to be at least 14 to 18 inches long, he explains, to give him enough wood to work with.

His motivation was simple: people can have an attachment to the trees that grow in their backyards, he says. Perhaps they planted it when they moved into their home or it represents a loved one. Cooper wanted to offer them something to remember those trees by.

In Newfoundland, especially, it seems like…when you lose a big tree it means the world to them, he says.

(Update: I am currently working through about 80 requests. I will get to everybody, but it might take a couple…

It will also allow him to work with new types of wood.

As woodworker in Newfoundland, you dont get very many varieties of wood, but Newfoundlanders tend to plant warmer climate trees and they have for many, many years, Cooper explains.

So, you see maples, you see different hickory, you see different oaks, and you see sometimes trees that you cant even really identify.

For the last couple of years, Cooper would reach out to friends privately to see if they had any fallen trees after a big storm hit, but this is the first time hes gone public with this type of request.

Hes not looking for money in exchange  Cooper just wants to satisfy his desire to work with wood while making something nice for people.

Sawmills are sort of my home territory. Marc Cooper

Since Cooper put up his social media post on Sept. 11, hes received 80 responses. Normally, he picks up half a dozen jobs after a hurricane.

Over the next couple of months, he will dry and season the wood before he gets to the part of the project where he shapes the object out of his materials.

The payoff will come sometime down the road when he gets to hand those people their transformed mementos.

Its just so cool to see their faces light up, said Cooper.

Nicholas Mercer covers Conception Bay North for SaltWire Network.[emailprotected]Twitter:@NikMercer

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