The evolution of Dennis Wight’s woodworking hobby somehow speaks to the larger trials and tribulations of the Terrace forestry community in general.
Just as the northwest has fought through a downturn in the Canadian timber market, so too did local furniture-maker Dennis Wight persevere in making value added forestry products even after he lost the majority of his eyesight in a workplace accident.
With the help of his wife, Colleen, Wight works long hours to meticulously craft specialty furniture from scratch, feeling his way around his garage workshop to retrieve materials.
After suffering the detachment of both retinas from a bad slip on gutter ice in 2005, followed by the onset of diabetes that further reduced his vision, Wight had to fight to remain hopeful about his future.
“I could sit and complain or move on. I accepted it, reluctantly, and moved on,” said Wight.
Three years later, he was back at his wood-working, and currently he has buyers waiting in line for products.
Being a blind carpenter is tremendously challenging, Wight said.
After multiple surgeries in Vancouver, he is only able to see the vague outlines of objects that must be brightly lit.
It took him 90 days to build his most recent oak and spruce bench, whereas prior to the accident it would have taken him half that.
“Colleen guides it on one end and me from the other and if I need a four foot board I will cut five.”
“The price of wood is so expensive,” he continued, adding that he has found unique ways to salvage material.
One way is to salvage boards from warehousing pallets where Wight says you can find oak and even rare wood from Africa sometimes.
He also benefits from the generosity of friends in the Terrace community where he has lived for 13 years.
Friends and neighbours regularly give him the good wood he needs to make great furniture.
After putting the finishing touches on an oak and spruce bench, Wight said he wants to build a hope chest.
“They are usually given to a young lady on her 16th birthday,” Wight said.
“It’s what she would put her items for her wedding in,” he said.
An oak bench of his was raffled off at a masonic lodge recently.
Between his woodworking triumphs, he turns dials in his high frequency radio studio where he can communicate with other transmitters around the globe and he operates the emergency channel for the northwest region of the province.
He says he has made contact with other high frequency radios in almost all the countries in the world.