Ricky McGill says he moved from the Louisiana swamp to Fredericktown with a dream of making Ozark furniture.
His specialty is building anything from wood and currently he has rustic chairs and benches. When he left Louisiana he left behind 50 to 60 of his pieces of furniture in a warehouse, which he plans to relocate soon.
While he is currently looking for a market for his furniture, McGill has never sold a single item.
McGill said he has had offers in the past and was asked to place items in a museum but he has always declined until recently, when he decided he should share his passion with the world.
"I started when I was 54 and now I am 65," McGill said. "I started out in a furniture shop restoring furniture. Then when winter came, I didn't have anything to do so I started playing around in the shop. I couldn't even put two pieces of wood together to make a chicken box when I started."
McGill said at first he attempted to use wooden dowels to make his own furniture until he realized the difficulty and cost of the technique.
"I realized I could take these spikes (metal nails) and put them in there and I wouldn't need to use dowels," McGilll said. "They were $300 for the dowels and I didn't know how to do it."
His passion was easy to see as he spoke of the materials he uses to craft what he describes as "hillbilly furniture."
"I use 100-year-old barn wood that I gathered or bought from the area," McGill said. "I've been buying a lot of barn wood and a lot of cedar. The storm in 2009 caused a lot of barns to lay down."
McGill is also always on the lookout for rusty nails and goes into creek bottoms looking for interesting drift wood.
"I use rusty nails," McGill said. "Everything is rustic and I am in the right place for old stuff. Nobody else likes rusty stuff except me."
McGill recalled a time when he was down south at the Louisiana State University campus, "They were restoring houses from the south and moving them up and putting them on the back of campus. I ended up going there and seeing how all that was done when I first started doing this and it just set me on fire."
His self-proclaimed "hillbilly furniture" comes with its own challenges. McGill uses minimal power tools, makes measurements using a stick and hammers everything in by hand.
"I cut a finger off doing this once," McGill said. "But, they put it back on."
Like the wood McGill chooses for his furniture, he has wounds which have healed over and made him more interesting.
"I was raised down the street from the swamps and gators," McGill said. "I tell everyone that I left Louisiana because the gators were breathing up all the air."
He said that moving here he could breath easier and knew he was home the first day he arrived in town.
"The first day I asked somebody at the service station where they live and they said 'I live right chere.'" McGill said. "I thought oh God I am home."
McGill is always looking for rusty nails, old barn wood, two-to-three-inch branches and old tin. He also restores wooden antiques for free because he loves to do it.
McGill also makes four corner post canopy beds, cabinets, picture frames, rocking chairs, bird houses, wooden box cars and almost anything made from wood.
"I was kinda a fish out of water in Louisiana," McGill said. "I can breathe easier here."
If you would like to learn more about Ricky McGill and his Ozark-inspired furniture you can reach him at 573-561-3174.