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    Big Comfy Swings
    “Nearly everybody in my family was a lawyer,” David Belser says. “I was the only stray.”
    So in 2012 David strayed from his hometown of Montgomery to live on the family farm in Macon County. There, instead of filing lawsuits, he started helping folks swing and sway.
    “I was taking care of the farm and going to college online, when I started woodworking,” he remembers. “I was largely self taught, I’d look at something and try to replicate it. Eventually I made a few coffee tables, and gave one to my girlfriend, Mary Elizabeth.”

    One day while visiting a friend at Lake Martin, David took a moment to relax in a bed swing on the front porch. “I loved it, and I think that almost anybody who has ever sat in one has felt the same way,” he says. After studying the swing’s construction, David built one for himself. Then he decided to share the love.
    He moved to the Pike Road area of Montgomery, constructed a woodworking shop, and started Four Oak Designs, specializing in custom made bed swings, tables and flooring.

    Now, his handcrafted swings, which range in size from crib to king, adorn front porches, backyards, courtyards, and other shaded spots from New Jersey to California.
    The craftsman also offers custom made tables and heart pine flooring, all fashioned from reclaimed wood that David finds in pre 1920s buildings and barns around south Alabama.
    While his handcrafted pieces have helped David gain a reputation as one of the state’s most talented woodworkers, swings are still his biggest sellers. “I either come up with a design myself, or I use ideas from swings I’ve seen,” he explains. “It takes two to three days to complete one—build it and then stain or paint it. I use southern pine or cedar, and finish the swing with three or four coats of high grade outdoor varnish.”

    His most popular product is the Seaside Bed Swing, a full mattress size delight that easily seats three or four front porch swingers. Aided by a local upholsterer, he also creates custom made cushions and “sunbrella” covers for the swings.
    David sells most of his swings on his website. “I ship them all over the country, I’ve gotten orders from as far away as New Jersey,” he says. “So I guess even folks in New Jersey like sitting on a front porch.” Although much of his business is done online, David meets many of his customers personally at antique fairs, and home and garden shows such as the America Mart in Atlanta. After the shows, he returns home to that coffee table he made several years ago, and the girl he made it for.
    “Mary Elizabeth and I got married soon after I gave her that table,” he says. “She’s always been my inspiration, telling me I could be a success at this. But she’s about to take the bar exam, so guess I’ll have another lawyer in the family.”
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