Long before he went to college for engineering, Tarik Yousef had another calling.
His one-time avocation has earned him a national reputation as a premier artisan woodworker, handcrafting deluxe items for the home.
On June 29, Yousef will put that work on display in a showroom at his store, TY Fine Furniture Ltd., 106 E. Moler St. in Merion Village.
"Frankly, Columbus has never seen anything like this," Yousef said.
His merchandise includes dining-room furniture, book shelves, night stands, rocking chairs, dressers, coffee tables and his biggest seller, beds, which on average cost $1,500 each.
Yousef said he will sell Naturepedic, top-of-the-line organic mattresses made in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, to go with them.
Yousef, 31, submitted an offer for the 14,000-square-foot building, at the northeast corner of Moler and Fourth streets, two years ago. It took six months to close the deal and another six months to rezone the property. For the last year, he's been renovating the space.
He now creates the furniture at a workshop in Marysville and said he needed a better vehicle -- one that wasn't full of tools and covered in sawdust -- to display furniture to customers.
"It's not much an experience for them," he said, adding much of his sales were done over the Internet. "I want to create a fuller experience for them, essentially.
He said he is leasing out other spaces in the building, which was built in the 1920s. It was most recently home to RaceQuip, which made racing uniforms. But the company moved and the building sat vacant for about 10 years.
Yousef started woodworking as a 12-year-old.
"I fell in love with the smell, feel and texture of wood," he said. "You can dream whatever you want do and you can form it, shape it.
"You can basically do anything with it. It's very accessible."
He further honed his craft at Upper Arlington High School.
"I spent a lot of time in shop class," said Yousef, who graduated from Arlington in 2001.
He then studied mechanical engineering at Ohio State University. While a junior, 10 years ago, he founded his furniture store.
After he graduated, he landed a job at Honda where he spent five years designing stamping tools.
His true passion kept calling.
"It was challenging, but you're pigeonholed," he said. "I like to do things start to finish."
He said he makes about 50 individual pieces per year, each usually taking six to eight weeks to complete.
"I've always known this is something I was going to do," he said. "I just didn't know to what scale."