At 16, Dave Tolford started building cabinets to earn money while he figured out what he wanted to do in life. But what was supposed to be a part-time gig became a passion.

After spending a dozen years learning the woodworking ropes from mentors at a couple of companies, Tolford last year opened his own business, David Tolford LLC.

Suddenly, with spectacular artistic talent and an insatiable need to craft only the highest-quality products, the 28-year-old has become a darling of the local decorating scene.

"We just love him," said Julie Reeg, the office manager at interior design firm David M. Berg Ltd. "His work's phenomenal. His worth ethic is amazing. He's just our go-to guy."

Tolford's company is low-key: He spent most of his first year working out of his home woodshop, and doesn't have a website. But business for the man who makes everything from kitchen tables to beds is booming.

"It's been non-stop," he said.

Found owner Jana Leino carries some of Tolford's pieces, and has directed people to him who want custom work. Tolford has crafted more than a dozen pieces for Troy and Julie Coughlin's house. (See "A Toast to Comfortable Luxury," page 146. His favorite piece in their home, he said, is the coffee table in their family room, which was $3,600.) He's also crafted interiors for a couple of local businesses, including Short North boutique Rowe.

"It's fun, what I do," Tolford said. "Everything's different."

The lone craftsman in his mostly businessman family, Tolford lives in Powell and is married with two sons. His wife, Amanda-who is a stylist at the Charles Penzone Grand Salon in Dublin-keeps his financial books. (She also lovingly puts up with him spending at least 10 hours a day, and typically more, in the woodshop.)

Tolford is a Findlay native who is friendly and humble. He's also a perfectionist who has actually taken finished pieces completely apart to start over-before clients have even seen his work.

"I'm just trying to build great furniture and build it right-give people what they want," he said. "I'm not being an artist or anything like that. I'm just doing what I love."

Dave Tolford can be reached at 614-440-5779 or