Building toys a labour of love for woodcarver

David Paul has progressive multiple sclerosis, yet becomes a one-man sawing, drilling operation

Red Deer’s wooden toymaker David Paul could use a few elves this time of year.

The 58-year-old has progressive multiple sclerosis, yet becomes a one-man sawing, sanding, drilling operation, as he readies toy trucks, planes, trains, doll cradles, and rocking horses for Christmas craft markets.

Toymaking, he points out, is not a business for him, but a weekend labour of love.

Paul can only work in his wood shop for half days on Saturday and Sunday because of fatigue, and because he has a desk job at a local service station during the work week. But he’s in a mentally good place whenever he’s among saws, routers and drills.

“Honestly, it’s a joy for me. I go into the shop, and work and all my stress falls away,” said Paul, who leans on a cane to walk because of his degenerative central nervous system disease.

More importantly, “It’s something I can still do,” he added.

The Calgary native, who grew up in Donalda, began carving about 17 years ago, around the time he was diagnosed with MS, and discovered his days as a weekend Country and Western dance instructor were over.

He didn’t see it as a form of escapism, or therapy — he simply needed another focus for his spare time.

Paul appreciates being able to do what other dedicated woodcarver can do. Since he’s unsteady on his feet, he takes an elevator down from his back deck to his ground-level backyard wood shop, and then sits while he carves and sands upon lowered work surfaces.

“Teaching dancing kind of boosted my ego and this does, too … it’s a bit of a feather in my cap.”

He takes on challenging projects, including special commissions. Among his imaginative creations, which are often clear-stained by Paul’s housemate, Wendy Anderson, are rocking motorcycles that kids can ride, painted locomotives, doll and kids’ furniture and 1920s Ford trucks.

He sells these to recover material costs. Since a pair of rocking horses can take Paul a month of weekends to finish, and a couple of smallish race cars take a whole weekend, he knows no one will pay him for all of his time. “It’s just a hobby. I don’t want to turn this into a job.”

The reward, said Paul, is imagining the look on children’s faces when they unwrap his toys on Christmas morning.

He’s already seen delight in the eyes of their parents and grandparents. The wooden toys “remind them of their own childhood,” added the toymaker, who’s heard customers say “they want to buy something that lasts.”

While Paul has finished doing Christmas markets this year, he can be reached at

Just Posted

City of Red Deer gets ball rolling on annexing more land

”It’s important we look ahead,” says Mayor Veer

Walmart melding online and in-store shopping

South Red Deer Walmart recently underwent six months of renovations

Updated: Nature trail unveiled at RDC

Trail unveiling and tree planting honours Nova Chemicals $2 million donation

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the… Continue reading

McGill research finds significant driving impairment 5 hours after cannabis use

MONTREAL — Driving under the influence of cannabis remains dangerous even five… Continue reading

Family: Remembering the important things

It seems so much of life is work and routine and then… Continue reading

Canada gets into Women’s World Cup with 7-0 win over Panama

FRISCO, Texas — Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set… Continue reading

Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal… Continue reading

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex,… Continue reading

Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling… Continue reading

Doctors to debate medical pot as more patients expected to ask for prescriptions

VANCOUVER — Doctors with opposing views on whether medical marijuana should be… Continue reading

Most Read