THE Covid-19 pandemic has caused difficulties for many people in Malaysia for the past 18 months, and self-employed Faizal Daud is no exception.
The 46-year-old former wireman has been out of work since the start of the first movement control order on March 18, 2020.
Faizal said lack of a job forced him to look for another source of income to provide for his family.
The father of two girls, aged 16 and 20, has turned to salvaging driftwood from a river near his house and turning it into furniture.
Sungai Tebrau is located a few kilometres from his house in Desa Melayu, Taman Bayu Puteri in Johor Baru.
“There are many pieces of driftwood on the riverbank during low tide and they can be turned into something useful,” he said when met on the riverbank.
Despite not having any background in carpentry, Faizal has been able to make chairs, tables, beds, shelves and decorative items from the driftwood.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, he had a job making garden gazebos for his customers using wood and related materials provided by them.
The salvaged driftwood, he said, was cleaned and dried under the sun for about three days before work could start.
He said most of the wood collected were parts of old buildings, wooden support structures used in construction activities and cut trees.
“This is my way of clearing ‘rubbish’ from Sungai Tebrau, which is one of the most polluted rivers in the state.”
He said wood that had been submerged in the river was best for turning into furniture as it had gone through a strengthening process.
He crafts only made-to-order items.
No two pieces of furniture are alike because the driftwood would have different grains.
“This is the beauty of furniture and decorative items made from driftwood,” said Faizal.
He charges between RM150 and RM300 per piece of furniture. He does not charge customers for the wood as he obtained them for free.
“It takes me at least a week to finish an order as it is made manually using basic tools,” he said, adding that he used a chainsaw to cut the wood into small pieces.
Before working on his own, Faizal was a supervisor with a developer from 2007 to 2012. But he resigned after being involved in an accident and was on medical leave for three months.
“The income from making furniture from driftwood is less than what I earned as a wireman but it is still better than doing nothing during these hard times,” he said.