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Market Musings: Adrian's Fine Woodworking carving up unique pieces sold to shoppers from around the world

Adrian Callaghan says his favorite part about the Fulton Street Farmers Market is the people. Read more in this final installation of Market Musings.

/Charlie Crowley

The Fulton Street Farmers Market is pretty true to its name. If you need meat, cheese, greens, or other assorted delicacies, you’re in the right place. However, every once in a while a different type of stand will pop up on a busy Saturday morning – a diamond in the rough, if you will. Or, in the case of Adrian Callaghan, wood in the rough.

Callaghan is the woodworking wizard behind Adrian’s Fine Woodworking, based here in Grand Rapids. After teaching woodworking at Western Michigan and part time at Grand Rapids Community College, Callaghan suffered a spinal cord injury in 2000, and uses his talents in woodworking as his rehab. He credits where he’s at now to the helping hands at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

“If it wasn’t for that hospital, I would have been at the Craig Institute,” he said. “To have that in Michigan is such a gift. The rehab doctors work really hard, the physical and occupational therapists were fantastic, and I can’t say how much of a gift this place is.”

When Callaghan is at the farmer’s market, he brings his smaller pieces that he says have made their way around the world. He said most of the work he does is custom work and refurbishing, from countertops to treasure chests to everything in between, which he says is his favorite to make. He mainly uses wood from the state of Michigan, including pine and oak. He did note that if he’s making a cutting board in the shape of Michigan, the wood has to be from the Mitten State.

Callaghan said his favorite part about the market is the people, running into customers from years past that have come back for more.

“You never know who you’re going to bump into from your past. Just today the seven items I’ve sold, one’s going to California, one’s going to Texas, one’s going to Denver, Colorado, and another’s going to Virginia. You think they’re local? No. I’ve had stuff from this market go to Melbourne, Australia and South Africa. There’s a huge melting pot that comes through here.

Although Callaghan is limited in his teaching ability now, his woodworking talents haven’t fallen short at all. He makes everything from wine holders to cutting boards, treasure chests to clocks, and even makes wooden speakers. Next time you’re at the market, take a look for the diamond – or in this case, wood – in the rough. 

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