Dom DeLuise says his father gave him real respect for garbage.
"My father was a garbage man," DeLuise says in the December issue of Popular Mechanics. That's why DeLuise has become a compulsive junk retriever, and a first-rate do-it-yourselfer.
"I'm no master craftsman," he states, "but if you call me Mr. Fixit, you'll be flirting with the truth."
His projects include helping his octogenarian mother build a bird feeder with a punctured coffee can and a foil pie plate, as well as more complicated how-to projects.
Among the more advanced of his undertakings are the two natural stone facades around the fireplaces in the living room and den of his 30-year-old, three-bedroom ranch home in Pacific Palisades.
Designed Workbench DeLuise boasts that his father left him an old framing hammer, a watch and a four-foot, solid-steel pry bar, along with an eye for the possible how-to project.
DeLuise does his handiwork at a workbench he designed himself but had built by a pro. The only tool that ever leaves his workbench area on purpose is his folding saw.
"I carry it in my car," he says. "You never know when you're going to have to saw something."
Once he was driving along Pacific Coast Highway when he spotted an armload of wood tied up with a string.
"Hey, I said to myself, firewood," he recalls. "I pick up the wood and look at it and I say, 'No, not firewood, chair.' "
He threw the wood into his Mercedes, headed home, and that evening sat comfortably in a newly restored rocking chair.
DeLuise is an expert at restoring grandfather clocks, including one that was given to his mother as a wedding present.
"I grew up with that chiming every hour of my life," he says. "I just love that sound."
Each of the three clocks in his home has been taken apart, cleaned and oiled, and its cabinetry restored.