When Brandon Rawlinson looks at a piece of wood, he doesn’t just see another piece of lumber. He sees a blank canvas that has been shaped by nature, which can be transformed into a useful object for a person’s home.

Rawlinson’s business, Rawli’s Furniture by a Fireman, grew out of a trip to a furniture store while looking for a dining room for his home. Not satisfied with what he saw for sale, Rawlinson thought that he could create something better — and that was four years ago.

The name of Brandon’s business reflects his full-time passion as a firefighter with the Hurst Fire Department, where he has served for the past four years.

“When we first bought our home in Midlothian, we went looking at tables. She, my wife Brooke, kind of has expensive tastes. We went looking and I didn’t want to spend as much on a table that she wanted to spend,” Brandon said. “I thought that I could build one myself. So I looked on the internet of kind of how to do it, went and bought the tools and built my first table.”

Brandon said before creating that first table for his home he had never done any woodworking or took any class to learn his craft. The knowledge that he has gained is from internet research, watching YouTube videos and trial and error.

Since the creation of the first table, Rawlinson has created five other tables for his home along with projects for clients. The furniture created at Brandon’s shop in Sardis is all custom and he explained that the customers give him the specifications they are looking for, and he builds it to meet that need. Sometimes, the "specifications" are as simple as a client sending a picture and asking if he can do a piece in that particular style.

Brandon’s furniture has a rustic look that reflects nature and brings out the wood’s natural shape.

“I just like that (natural) look more than just paint. If you were going to paint it or something, it hides what nature has already created. My thought is that it takes away from the piece. You can paint anything to make it look good,” Brandon said. “I find enjoyment in working with it and making it the best it can naturally look. I feel like nature has made its own way and people enjoy looking at it. You don’t always see it, so it is very unique. I love that.”

Brandon said the natural wood that is used in some of his projects comes from a sawmill in the San Antonio area.

“A lot of people, they like all my cedar tables. My most popular one is my four-inch cedar table [because] it just really has a hardy look to it. They just love that,” Brandon said. “Probably 90 percent of my stuff is cedar. I just enjoy working with it. It is a great wood and it looks great. It really has unique look to it and grain patterns. I also use a lot of hardwoods. When you get into hardwood, it gets a little bit more expensive. So you can get a great look from cedar and it is affordable.”

Brandon said in addition to dining room tables, other pieces he can create include benches, mantels, pocketknives and coffee tables. He also does commercial projects as well — such as the display cabinet made of Pecan for the Rigsby Garden Center that is going to open in Midlothian this spring. He added that one of the new projects he is looking forward to tackling in the New Year is creating a set of counter tops for a fellow firefighter’s kitchen.

The price range on a four-inch thick dining room tables is anywhere from $600-$1,300 and takes about a month to complete. Any other types of projects just depend on what the piece is, what work is involved and materials. Free estimates are also provided to give the customer an idea of the costs involved before work begins.

Brandon said his wife, Brooke, had played a key role in helping the business grow, succeed and transform the ideas from paper to reality.

“We have had like five dining room tables in not even the three years that we have been married. So it is like every time that he comes up with a new idea, here is a new table for us. It has been fun,” Brooke said. “I find pictures on Pinterest and I’m like, ‘Hey can you do this?’ and he is like, ‘Sure. Let's do it. It is going to take a little bit of work.’ With things for our house we work close together on.”

Brandon said word of mouth and customer referrals have helped to grow the business, but he hopes to expand its reach even further during the next year.

“I am really hoping to grow my business. I hope I can do more commercial accounts. Do bigger and better things. Obviously, this is my side business. This is what I really enjoy doing,” Brandon said. “I have found a passion doing this. If I am not at the station and she is not home, I am usually at the wood shop doing something.”

For more information about Rawli’s Furniture by a Fireman, Brandon can be reached at (214) 697-9386 or emailed at brawlinson90@gmail.com. The Rawlinson's also have a website at www.rawlisfurniture.com or search Rawli's Furniture by a Fireman on Facebook.

— Follow Andrew on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/AndrewBrancaWDL or Twitter at www.twitter.com/AndrewBrancaWNI. Contact him at andrew.branca@waxahachietx.com or 469-517-1451