Blog Post: Luther Village Woodworkers Work Together!

Residents shows his unique spiral carving Archie shows his unique spiral carving

Here are a few things I didn’t know about the woodshop at Luther Village on the Park. Did you?

1.The resident members, who collectively possess decades of experience in a wide variety of trades, built, provide materials for and maintain every part of their large, well equipped and highly functional shop, with the exception of electricity, which is provided by Luther Village.

2. The woodshop members have crafted a large number of the beautiful wood features of Luther Village, including the flower stands in the Chapel, the wall-to-wall shelving in the Store, the two Garden Sheds,  and the Greenhouse shelving, not to mention the large volume of commissions for other LVP residents.

3. One woodshop member literally had a few trees cut down, took them to the lumberyard to be cut up, brought the lumber to the LVP woodshop and then used it to work with. Talk about taking ownership of the complete cycle of production!

Woodshop members pose in the woodshop for a portrait

I met with woodshop members Craig Nicholson, Henk Van Duren, Archie Harms, Karl Giebat, Carl Hinschberger, and Elmer Matyas (as pictured in that order, right) down in the woodshop in the basement of the Atrium on a winter morning last week. Despite the cold air outside, inside the shop it was warm and bright—both the temperature and the company! The only thing more obvious in the woodshop than the quality and beauty of what is created here is the camaraderie and enjoyment of the members. Many of the members spend most of their weekdays in the shop, creating lovely pieces ranging from Archie’s unique spiral carving work (as far as we know, the only type of its kind in Canada) to Elmer’s exquisite stained glass to the elegant furniture that Carl has made over the years for his many grandchildren. And that's just a few examples—the output of skill and talent in the woodshop is incredible.

Henk, Karl, Carl and Bill G. (not pictured), original members of the group, having been here since day one. They, and the members who have joined since, are proud of what they have accomplished with the woodshop, and they love to be here. Elmer describes the club as a “family”. Henk says it’s the “best place to be next to home”, while Carl jokes that “it keeps him out of his wife’s hair” (wives of LVP are clearly also benefitting from this club!). One member tries to convince me that “we all just buckle down and work—we don’t smile!” but we all know that’s not true! In fact, someone who shall remain nameless suggests there should be a bar in the shop … I think the woodshop’s Constitution would have something to say against that!

A picture of the Village Store where the shelving was made by the Luther Village woodworkers

Are you interested in learning more about woodworking? Do you have a commission for the members of the shop? Residents may have work done for a nominal fee plus materials, and all residents are invited to come and visit the shop and see if they would like to join.There are currently 14 members of this group, some more active than others. New members are always welcome. There is a $50 annual membership due for use of the facilities and sandpaper, paint, glue, etc. Members are responsible for bringing their own raw materials, although if there is extra left over from any project, anyone may use it. The shop is currently made up completely of men, but the gentler sex is always welcome! Ditto for novices. Although many members are residents who were already versed in woodworking, any resident is welcomed to join and learn from the wisdom of the current membership. Though there are no formal workshops, informal learning happens all the time as residents work side by side.    Speaking of the Constitution, the woodshop has one and it is a set of rules that are designed to ensure that all members use the machines carefully and follow all safety guidelines. The shop is kept clean and all areas where there are dangerous materials such as paint and finishers are locked up. Henk made it very clear that there is no smoking in the shop (or in any common areas of Luther Village). The shop is well lit and the tools are stored in an orderly fashion. There’s a little clutter, the kind that comes from creativity, but overall the shop is a very safe space.

Items made by woodshop members: blue stained glass lamp, wooden church pulpit, spiral carving candle holders, white and dark stained small clocks, large Grandfather clock, elegant benchSome of the items made by woodshop members

You can contact the Atrium Desk to get in touch with the wood shop members. Also, please check out the display on the Main Street at Luther Village, across from the Sunshine Café, for an ever changing display of some of the fine pieces produced by the club, some for sale and some for display only.