Wood carver designs new sign for The Old Mill

Following termite damage to The Old Mill sign, famed woodcarver Lee Halbrook is working to bring a new one to the North Little Rock Historic Landmark.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – You can find Lee Halbrook outside his barn in Conway sawing and carving various wood projects.

He said the shed, which houses his supplies and creations, acts as his “therapeutic” place.

Halbrook is the owner of Custom Log Carvings and is now taking on another job filled with passion.

“When I carve a tree, a stump, it doesn’t always go exactly the way I have it in my mind, because the wood itself has something to say about what you carve out of it,” Halbrook said.

The loneliness he has in Conway is 180 from the noise his impact made in North Little Rock.

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The Old Mill sign in North Little Rock is getting an update, and it’s courtesy of Halbrook.

He’s done good work for the city in the past, and now he’s back for a new sign installation, having sculpted the original sign in 2018.

“I actually carved The Old Mill out of the log and that’s what we’re going to do again, but this time we’re going to use cedar,” Halbrook said.

Cedar is a wood that does not rot and has fewer insect problems.

Halbrook said the log on the original panel was being destroyed by termites.

Ahead of her work, the Town of North Little Rock said they were thrilled to see another of Halbrook’s pieces spruce up the historic landmark.

Parks and Recreation Manager Steve Shields said it wouldn’t be the last time they worked with Halbrook either.

“He’s going to start the process of doing another one in the near future and he’s really talented at what he does. He produces great art and our people love it,” Shields said.

Halbrook said he originally only sculpted designs for fun, until people started taking notice. Now he does it full time running his own business.

He started working with the city when Mayor Terry Hartwick noticed one of his animal sculptures. At the time, Hartwick was Director of Parks and Recreation.

“It brings character and it’s just fun for our citizens of North Little Rock,” Shields said.

While all parties are excited, Shields said the sign won’t be visible for 2-3 weeks.

Because, it only builds on a passion for woodcarving that he has had since childhood, creating pieces for others and earning him worldwide fame.

“I put a bit of myself into everything I carve, because I love doing it,” Halbrook said.