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Woodworker building business, new home in Canning

Darrell Drover has set up his woodworking shop and business Saltwood Designs in Canning, where he now lives with his family. He’s found success with his business and has made items from Keurig holders to crib boards, which sold out as soon as he finished them.
Darrell Drover has set up his woodworking shop and business Saltwood Designs in Canning, where he now lives with his family. He’s found success with his business and has made items from Keurig holders to crib boards, which sold out as soon as he finished them. - Sara Ericsson
CANNING, N.S. —

Darrell Drover wanted to design and build wooden pieces before he even knew how.

Making mistakes and constant self-education have led to a fruitful woodworking career for Drover, who has moved his Saltwood Designs business to his new home in Canning, where he creates custom pieces for large companies and individual clients.

He’s learned to trust his creativity and incorporate the wood’s imperfections in making pieces unique.

“It’s from mistakes that some of my best pieces have evolved – going from an initial design where I messed something up, and then having to adjust for it. All of a sudden, the piece was even better than I’d first imagined,” he says.

Darrell Drover specializes in inlays of expensive exotic woods like ebony, walnut and olive. He used walnut boards in his design for a custom case for this bronze award, which sits perfectly within the box he built for it.
Darrell Drover specializes in inlays of expensive exotic woods like ebony, walnut and olive. He used walnut boards in his design for a custom case for this bronze award, which sits perfectly within the box he built for it.

Drover lived in Cobourg, Ont. and worked as a consulting executive and felt the gifts given by other executives to clients were low-quality and lacking inspiration.

Inspiration struck and he decided to build a business with the sole goal of making better options for these executives to choose from.

The only problem was he’d never really done much woodworking before.

“I certainly tinkered over the years. But people thought I was crazy when I first decided to do this,” he laughs.

After a panic-inducing existential crisis and subsequent time spent honing his skills, Drover has found regular clients who order furniture for home and office spaces, and smaller items like custom cases for awards, cigar humidors, tiered tea cases and Keurig holders.

He crafts his pieces using mainly hardwoods and smaller inlays of exotic woods like ebony, walnut, and sapele, and has branched out into new pieces like charcuterie and crib boards.

Drover finishes his pieces with small touches like wooden hinges and handles and inlays chosen for their particular wood grains and symmetry.

He is often asked to surprise his clients with the final design.

He says this can evoke inspiration and anxiety at the same time – especially when they ask him to make something he’s never tried before.

He says it was years of “expensive sawdust” from mistakes made and constant self-education that led to his current success. Drover has clients from across Ontario and the maritime region.
He says it was years of “expensive sawdust” from mistakes made and constant self-education that led to his current success. Drover has clients from across Ontario and the maritime region.

When clients first suggested Drover create custom furniture, he took on another challenge of self-education.

“It was them who convinced me I could do it. Really, they were just a bigger sort of box,” he says. “It came with a lot of pressure, but it also opened up a whole new world for me.”

The move to Canning has been a smooth one for Drover, who was raised in Halifax. He’s had clients in Ontario and across the Maritimes since starting his business and has kept these while adding more within Nova Scotia.

His move was a spontaneous one after visiting Canning for a weekend and buying a property with his family, but one that feels just right.

And he’s found the honesty in his woodworking echoed in the simpler and kinder life he says he’s found in Annapolis Valley life – one he’s happy to be building for himself.

“It’s a real sense of accomplishment, compared to signing a multimillion-dollar contract. They’re both exciting, but to see something that’s the result of your actual hands – it’s just something different,” he says. 

Sara.Ericsson@kingscountynews.ca

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