Award-Winning Carpenter Makes Mini-Houses on Busy Street
Past the strip malls and restaurants, Tom Swearingjen is hard at work on the side of East Brainerd Road. This master carpenter doesn't care for blue prints or plans when he's crafting his pint-sized projects. "I stand back and eyeball it and think that looks good," Swearingjen says. "That looks straight."
He cuts his own lumber with his travel-sized saw mill and then goes to work with his grandson's extra set of hands. And while he uses a measuring tape as he frames his foundation, it's certainly NOT his Bible.
"I have built the floors crooked," he says, "intentionally skewed and that presents a little bit of a problem if you were a carpenter. But if you are an artist and you got a chainsaw you just let everything stick over and cut it off."
These mini-makeshift mansions come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes cut for custom orders or whatever comes to this carpenter's mind. "It's just that artist thing. I like to build things. I like to see it come together. When I picture it in my mind, it's not the same as when you see it in real life."
Sometimes the finished products serve as playhouses, others a design for an adult.
"It's Chattanooga artists, the money stays in Chattanooga," says Good World Goods owner Victoria York. She sells Swearingjen's designs. "It doesn't get any better than that."
But while his scale may be small, Swearingjen says his pieces are built to last. "I hope they enjoy it until their children come along and then they play in it."
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