70-year-old Lenny Ellis keeps himself busy by building toy houses.

NEW
VINEYARD – Lenny Ellis hopes to give one of his nearly 200 handmade log
dollhouses – three stories high and furnished with handcrafted cherry,
oak and bird’s-eye maple furniture – to President Barack Obama’s
daughters.

“I think it would be a nice gesture to give the Obama
daughters a house if they want it,” said the 70-year-old woodworker,
referring to Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7. “I just think they’re a nice
family.”

Ellis spends many hours in his workshop in the basement
of his home on Route 27, cutting rock maple into minilogs and birch
into dowels for framing. Each of the 100 dowels for the shell is glued
and pegged.

Then he shingles the roof, installs wood flooring, makes furniture and sometimes adds a rock chimney to enhance their beauty.

One
of the houses on his workbench is 20 inches wide, 20 inches deep and 20
inches high. Unlatching two hooks that hold the front of it to the
back, he reveals three floors complete with handcrafted furniture made
of cherry, oak and bird’s-eye maple. Tables, chairs, a rocking chair,
benches and a hutch give a warm, homey touch.

“It takes 200
hours to build one dollhouse,” Ellis said. “It takes two months to
build furniture but I make enough of it for 25 houses.”

When he’s done, he signs, dates and numbers each house.

“The
reason I got into it, making dollhouses, is when my son Brian was 4, he
asked me to build him a fort out of wooden blocks,” said Ellis, who has
muscular dystrophy. “He still has the wooden fort with him.”

Brian Ellis is in the U.S. Navy and has seen duty in Iraq.

Lenny Ellis said he started making the dollhouses for others, giving many as gifts and selling some.

The process is time-consuming, which is one of the reasons he does it.

“It keeps me busy, and the thing is, I’m not sitting in a chair,” he said.

“I
get enjoyment out of doing it. When you’re working with wood, it does
not talk to you. It might hit you, but it doesn’t talk back.”


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