It all began in 1976....
a 21 year old by the name of Daniel Terrico was working for Walt Disney World and caught the attention of Dick Nunis, the CEO of Disney, after saving the company thousands of dollars with his creative ideas for expanding River County, Florida’s first water park. Dick asked Daniel what he would like to do in the company. Dan’s quick response was “I want to be a woodworking apprentice at the creative shop”. Soon thereafter he became Walt Disney World’s first woodworking apprentice where he worked under some of the world’s best craftsmen such as Richard Summers who was hired by Walt Disney himself in the mid 1960’s!
During his 4 year apprenticeship...
Dan was trained in various woodworking techniques, speicifcally enjoying the dying art-form of Intarsia. This technique is similar to mosaic work where pieces of wood are carved, tightly fitted together and glued to a wooden support to create a decorative design or image. In 1988, after his mentor introduced the idea of an intarsia puzzle box, Dan designed and created his own featuring a cat for his 6 year old daughter who couldn’t have a pet cat due to allergies. The puzzle box was a big hit with his daughter so he continued making these unique keepsake boxes in his own time, giving them away with money inside to friends and family for all sorts of occasions.
After leaving Walt Disney World 1984...
Dan ventured out on his own and successfully ran his own woodworking business. Years later in 1996, Dan traveled to the rural district of Củ Chi in Vietnam to help a long time artist friendwho he had employed in the late 80’s. While visiting, he found himself among an abundance of eager, would-be apprentices, something that he did find back in the States. The people of Vietnam shared his passion for wood carving and were even making puzzle boxes similar to those of his own. The mountain and tropical climates of Vietnam as well as neighboring Cambodia and Thailand offer an array of farmed hardwoods that are perfect for Intarsia woodworking. Dan felt he had found his second home and soon after became known by the people of Củ Chi as Carver Dan.
After building his woodworking studio in Củ Chi, Dan began searching for hardwoods to create his puzzle boxes, wall art and keychains. Since Vietnam is a hub for all kinds of woodworking including furniture, Carver Dan befriended a nearby furniture factory owner who surprisingly had an abundance of exotic scrap hardwood. Dan traded tricks of the trade and ways to increase production efficiency with the owner and struck a deal to purchase the remnants. These beautiful pieces of wood would no longer have to be discarded or burned in a fire but would be turned into beautiful hand-carved art given as gifts to people all around the globe.
The Journey Continues
Since 1996, Carver Dan has been crafting handmade collectibles in Vietnam and has created approximately 250+ jobs in the village of Củ Chi, 63 of those being carvers who have been trained by Master Carver Dan himself. Traditionally, it would take one person approximately two days to make a puzzle box from start to finish but with the help of our 250+ employees we are now able to create 400 puzzle boxes a day along with other handcrafted collectibles. In addition to utilizing recycled hardwood for our products we also have partnered with One Tree Planted, a non-profit organization that focuses on reforestation, planting one tree for every purchase made on our website. To see our woodshop, more interesting photos and videos about our work and life in Vietnam be sure to check out our website and Facebook Page. We appreciate your support and look forward to continuing to create our one of a kind, handcrafted hardwood collectibles for you and your family for years to come.