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Works of art from humble hands

Ashby Ponds woodworkers share love of the craft

Created date

May 22nd, 2012

The whirl of saws, the pounding of hammers, and the pungent smell of wood polish means it s just another day of work at the Ashby Ponds woodshop.

A craftsman s escape

Located on the ground floor of Bluebird Court, the woodshop is equipped with both modern power tools and clean air devices, including a bench saw, cut-off saw, band saw, drill press, router, plainers, joiners, and an assortment of hand power tools. According to James Jim Wiegand, who co-founded the Ashby Ponds woodworking club with Arthur Heinzman in September 2009, Our club is easy to join and open to any resident interested in woodworking. In order to enjoy the full benefits of the woodshop, members pay a $20 initiation fee and $15 a year. The money is used to sharpen blades, purchase small items, and upgrade tools. The club s 30-plus members also agree to abide by the club s safety rules. Our biggest rule is that when using a power tool, there must always be at least one other person in the workshop, says Jim. We want everyone to enjoy themselves, and to do so we need to make sure that everyone is safe.

Starting from scratch

Because Ashby Ponds is Erickson Living s newest community, located in Ashburn, Va., Jim and Arthur stocked the woodshop from donations, including those from other Erickson Living communities, most of which have a woodshop. We were very fortunate to receive much of our original equipment from the workshop at Greenspring, Ashby Ponds sister community in Springfield, Va., says Jim. We also built our own router, says member Grant Haggquist. We would have spent at least $500 if we purchased one. Most of the group s other tools have also been donated. We review whatever we receive as a donation, says Jim. If we already have a particular tool, we keep the better one. The rest we donate to the Treasure Chest store on campus. The proceeds support our campus charity. We recently had some very nice wood given to us by a new resident whose husband had been a craftsman, says Arthur. She gave us lovely cherry, maple, and chestnut wood. It s wonderful and a special treat to be able to work with such wood.

Plethora of projects

The club members spend most of their time repairing furniture for their neighbors and creating new items for sale at the annual Crafts Bazaar in December. Grant, nicknamed the wobbly leg man, specializes in furniture repairs. Signs advertising his services hang in the community s Cardinal Clubhouse. I spend at least eight to ten hours a week on repairs, and I enjoy the work, he says. Our club does not charge for any repair work other than any expenses we may incur. We simply ask for a donation. People have been very generous. We are often asked to make a particular piece of furniture to fit a very specific spot in our neighbors homes, says Jim. It s custom furniture that they cannot find in a store. In addition to repair work, the talented group supports many of Ashby Ponds other clubs. They have made custom drawers for the ceramics club, bluebird houses for the bluebird watching club, and wooden CD boxes for the library.

Time to enjoy

Working with their hands is a hobby these woodworkers now enjoy more frequently since they moved to Ashby Ponds. In my previous home I had a workshop, so I was very happy to find the woodworking club here, says Grant. I am now no longer restricted by the demands of my career. I did not have a workshop in my former home, says Jim, So this is a real treat. And men aren t the only ones enjoying the benefits of a home workshop. Grant s wife Nancy, who serves as the group s treasurer, is one of several women who joined the club. I just happen to really like tools, she says. My favorite stores have always been hardware stores. Before we moved to Ashby Ponds, I would help Grant a little. Since moving here, I do a lot more. It s so nice to create something yourself.

Great place for fun

Whether repairing existing furniture or making something new, members of the woodworking club enjoy exploring their creative sides while having a good time. I really enjoy what I do, says Jim. And I also find it nice to see more and more people using the shop and having a good time. I ve always admired wood, especially old woodworking. I enjoy examining every joint. I appreciate how things are made. There is just something about working with your hands, says Arthur. I enjoy shaping, finishing, and ending up with a nice finished product. I guess that sums up why many of us spend time here almost every single day, says Jim. Some people sing, play golf, or dance, says Nancy. We go to the woodshop. It s really a terrific place.