Sweetwater veteran reopens family woodworking business

Positively Tennessee

An East Tennessee veteran who found himself at a crossroads after losing his government job found renewed hope in Sweetwater where he grew up.

Daniel McCollum has reopened the woodworking business that dates back five generations in his family. It’s called Restoration Woodworks, but the business doesn’t restore furniture; it restores lives.

The former Marine is proud to show off the skill he learned from his grandfather, but never thought he’d be using it today, creating finely crafted tables, handcrafted headboards and menu boards for Blackberry Mountain. 

Each one comes from stacks of wood in a Quonset hut standing the test of time on the family’s property in Sweetwater.

All of it, including his grandfather’s woodworking shop, hadn’t been touched in years.

“My granddad passed away about nine years ago. During that time this was just left vacant. Nobody was here to maintain anything and all this damage was occurring and yet it didn’t damage the equipment,” said McCollum.

Despite not being touched in years, the equipment was surprisingly still in working order.

“It’s like this has just had a hand of protection over it. It’s the only explanation I can come up with because all reason says this shouldn’t work. The metal should be rusted, so far beyond repair. The bearings didn’t get greased for 10 years. The belts, the belts should be replaced but they’re not broken. I haven’t replaced one belt. The blades are still sharp. You want to know about sovereignty, that’s soverignty. He’s got His hand over it.”

Even the old clock on the wall is still ticking. It’s as if everything here was waiting for McCollum to give it new life after it became clear that the military and government work was part of his past.

“it just kind of happens that I ended up here, just kind of doing a little project for somebody and the more time I spent here, the more restoration it brought to me. And my wife says, ‘Hey, maybe you can kind of open up that door for vets,'” McCollum said.

So he reopened this special place in his family and heart to veterans who deserve a helping hand.

“We want to employ veterans because you get this skill to pull a trigger and it doesn’t translate to real world. And more than that, you’re doing this thing that everybody collectively agrees is worth your life and then you’re not doing that anymore. And so, am I valuable? And so, I can answer that question for me, because I’m rooted in God and that’s where I find my values.”

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