Local Craftsman Makes Something Out of Nothing

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Mark Louis shows off the two buildings in his yard that are built using scrap lumber, in particular wood pallets.

Mark Louis, Vicksburg, has an unbelievable way of creating something extraordinary out of a pile of scrap wood, according to his daughter Michele Woodrow. He built dollhouses for her dolls and props for her school plays, all of which were made of wood he collected in the yard.

Carpentry has been a part of Louis’ life since he was 24, when he worked hanging drywall and assisting home builders. As he began to discover his talents as a builder, he took on bigger challenges, such as building his family’s first home in Vicksburg in 1997 where he and his wife Sheri currently reside. His projects have continued in and around this new home, where he has developed a new passion, recycling.

Take a walk around Louis’s 11-acre property to witness his talent for repurposing wood and other used materials. There was an abundance of wood pallets at his workplace, and he couldn’t see them go to waste. Within a couple of months, he transformed the pallets into a barn that stands 18 feet tall and shelters their 12 chickens. Next to the chicken barn stands an even larger barn, built to shelter his granddaughter’s three 4H bunnies and two goats, also made entirely from wood pallets. It’s amazing how he can find a new purpose for something old, not allowing it go to waste, his daughter said.

His most recent project is by far the most amazing. With recycled wood purchased off Craig’s List, Louis is working on a 23-foot, two-story barn. The door to the barn was salvaged from his grandmother’s home in Kalamazoo, which was scheduled to be demolished later that month. The floor will be lined with old street bricks purchased off Craig’s List. The barn’s 12 windows are all made from repurposed materials. Every detail, down to the door hinges, is recycled. The interior is decorated with a 1940s boiler and several antique pipes and furnishings. On the top level of the barn sits a handmade 8’ x 4’ layout and assembly clamp for building furniture. This is a temple to woodworking—a shop designed to indulge his passion for repurposing materials.

Louis is currently gathering materials to build a rocket mass heater, which he plans on using to heat their home this winter. A rocket heater is a type of wood burning stove, which can burn virtually any type of wood, including twigs and leftover pallets, even straw. With energy costs rising, this is a simple, efficient, and sustainable alternative to natural gas or propane.

Her father’s creativity has always amazed friends and family, Woodrow says. The way Louis repurposes and conserves natural resources has been a hidden talent. His innovation and conservation help create a more sustainable environment. Anyone is interested in more information can visit www.1001pallets.com for ideas.

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