Call the Leech Lake Chamber of Commerce for information on events, activities, and attractions near you!
Browse the Walker, MN business directory for restaurants, lodging, and stores near you.   


Discover the fun and beauty of the Leech Lake area, the best vacation destination in Minnesota. 800.833.1118
Discover the Leech Lake Area
View previous event
View next event

Tom Duffy Designs Joins the Leech Lake Chamber

It takes someone with a unique kind of creativity to turn another person’s dreams into realities.
That’s what Tom Duffy Designs of Walker has been doing for decades.
The family-owned business, which Tom and his wife Jaimie started in 2009 in southeast Minnesota, is now located just outside of Walker. Duffy and Jaimie work together to create custom products including woodworking, cabinetry, fine furniture, custom signs, lathe turnings, millwork, jewelry, embroidery and much more. Tom works with materials as diverse as wood, metal, leather, glass, stone, bone, antlers, fabrics and paper; basically, whatever the customer wants or brings in.
It’s more than a hobby or a craft; it’s an art.
“If you dream up something, we can create it for you, using our state-of-the art-shop with high quality machines and tools,” says Tom.
For years Tom and Jaimie, son Bryce, now 21, and daughter Kennette, 19, vacationed “up north” both in winter and summer. “We love it here; it’s where we honeymooned,” Tom recalls.
Once the kids were older, the couple decided to take a leap of faith. In a whirlwind transaction that took less than a day, they bought property, sight unseen, near Walker. The Duffys moved here in April 2022, living in their Ice Castle trailer while building their house, now in the final finishing stages, and a 40-by-50 foot shop with 12 foot ceilings for Tom Duffy Designs.
Tom has been woodworking since age 14. In high school he took every class related to woodworking and the trades. He also has a two-year degree in drafting and design and worked as a draftsman for 15 years, designing custom light fixtures. He then spent 11 years as project manager for the same company.
He considers himself self-taught with skills that only can be learned through hands-on experience.
Tom started with smaller affordable computer design machines but has now upgraded to mainly Laguna machines, an American name brand for over 40 years, known for its advanced technology automated CNC machinery and woodworking solutions. “It was a worthwhile investment, says Tom. “Much more accurate, more precise. He also has a lathe with duplicator and can sharpen knives razor sharp. There’s a clean “finishing room” and the usual woodworking tools.
Some projects are more difficult than others, especially large ones that require larger pieces of lumber. “Each piece seems to have its own unique challenges, whether it’s the design concept, the fabrication, even the delivery.
One project that springs to mind is a window dog bed with steps that Tom and Jaimie designed and now sell across the country. But how do you ship such a bulky item? “We almost had to go a ‘little Ikea,'” Tom explains, meaning making a dog bed that could be shipped, disassembled, then reassembled by the customer, based on instructions.
“It turned out great! We have custom window seats for pets across the country!”
Sometimes clients bring in something ‘interesting’ and ask the Duffys to create a special piece.
Tom remembers one man who brought in a piece of wood from his grandparents’ barn. “We made a sign/picture frame out of it.”
Other unusual and challenging projects include the curved bar shown on Duffy Designs’ brochure; a treehouse with kitchenette, bunks, furnace, TV and dinette that folds down into a queen-size bed; and, of course, the family’s last two homes, which he built.
At first the Duffys did projects mainly for friends and family, then spread out to businesses. “I think we still do more residential than business,” Tom guesses.
Business-related items could be conference room tables and cabinets, display cabinets, entry benches, company logos and signs. Duffy Designs can engrave cups, wine glass, cribbage board and many other items for businesses or gift shops. An embroidery machine can create designs on apparel and other fabric. There’s trim; millwork; doors; signs; furniture; even jewelry!
To summarize, “We can do almost anything — but we don’t do flooring!”
What gives Tom and Jaimie the most satisfaction? Probably clients’ responses.
“The fact that we can create a unique piece for a client that can’t be bought in a box store or online,” Tom reflects. “We have customers who continue to come to us and are excited the we are willing to make whatever they dream up. To see their smiles when we hand them their product is priceless!”
One of Tom’s first projects was his dad’s 1936 Chevy Coupe that dad (?) wanted to restore. Back then cars had wooden frames, and that car’s frame was rotten. “I had to rebuild each piece!”
As a kid, he did the usual shop projects but as he got older he tackled more difficult ones, challenging himself to learn more and make it better.
“I certainly have evolved so much in the 30 years I’ve worked in this trade,” he reflects. Now, having moved to the Leech Lake area, the Duffys have no regrets.
“We love it here and wouldn’t change a thing. We are just hoping … that people will see the value in what we can do!”

Newsletter Signup