Sidney Longwell needed a doctor's help.
Little did he know that Dr. Patrick Stagg would be able to heal him and give a face-lift — even though he's not that kind of doctor — to the Oak Hills home he shares with wife Sealann.
Stagg is an oncologist, now semiretired, as well as a self-taught woodworker.
In the course of one of Sidney Longwell's medical visits, Sealann Longwell told the physician about a high bid she received to replace their old shutters.
"Some of them were getting ready to fall and hit somebody," she said.
"I think I can do better than that," Stagg told the surprised Longwells.
At the time, Stagg was honing his woodworking skills and looking for "difficult projects to attack," he said.
Using a combination of Merenti wood from Indonesia and some Spanish cedar, Stagg crafted three different styles of shutters — louvered, European-style with push-out panels on the bottom and a combination shutter of panels and louvers.
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Some of the shutters are fixed in place while others are functional. Some are copies of the original shutters. Others are larger.
Stagg painted the shutters a mossy green and installed them himself.
Always interested in woodworking, Stagg really began spending a lot of time in his backyard woodworking shop when he cut back his medical practice, where he now spends three half-days a week. He also does some teaching through the residency program at Baton Rouge General.
"I grew up across the river, one of six kids," Stagg said. "I grew up with hand tools. My father was a maintenance guy. We did everything ourselves. We painted cars. We built buildings."
He learned some of his woodworking skills from a brother who does custom woodworking but figured out a lot by himself over time.
"I always wanted to do woodworking," he said. "I always wanted to make unique stuff. I take each project as a puzzle."
The learning process, he said, is not that different from studying medicine.
"In medicine, nobody knows everything," he said. "You have to read and study what you don't know. It's the same for any field."
Several years ago, Stagg and his wife, Lynda, added an outdoor kitchen and dining area to their home in Highland Lakes. At the center of the patio room is a large dining table, one of Patrick Stagg's first large projects. He's gone on to make tables of all sizes and is working on a custom bench to use with a high table.
Stagg's backyard workshop is perfectly organized with some antique tools hanging on the walls for display.
"Boys used to take industrial arts in school," he said. "I have industrial arts in my own backyard."