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Woodworking wow

Tallgrass Creek’s new workspace encourages creativity, camaraderie

Created date

December 15th, 2016
Enjoying their new workspace are Tallgrass Creek woodworkers (from left) Alan Oehrle, Don Kaufmann, Dick Knapp, Darrell Rupp, Ken Angell, Bob Mueller, and (kneeling) Lloyd Mitterling.

Enjoying their new workspace are Tallgrass Creek woodworkers (from left) Alan Oehrle, Don Kaufmann, Dick Knapp, Darrell Rupp, Ken Angell, Bob Mueller, and (kneeling) Lloyd Mitterling.

From doll cradles to bookshelves to beautifully crafted ink pens, Tallgrass Creek’s woodworkers design and create it all. Thanks to a new, larger space, they’re creating more now than ever.

The handy group that formed right after Tallgrass Creek opened its doors in 2007 set up shop in a space behind the Sunflower Bistro, a popular lunch and happy hour spot. Recently, the woodshop relocated to a sizable space on the terrace level of Bluebird Crossing that includes individual tool and work areas. 

To introduce their new digs, Tallgrass Creek woodworkers hosted an open house so their neighbors could see where all the creative activity takes place. 

Efficient workspace

“This space works so well,” says Don Kaufmann, an enthusiastic woodworker and furniture maker. “The individual work stations allow us to work more efficiently.” 

Don, a retired financial advisor, caught the furniture-making bug when he built his first piece of furniture at age 37. His residence at Tallgrass Creek has several pieces of furniture he designed and built, including an entertainment center, a large chest of drawers, and a drop-leaf side table. A dining room breakfront houses his wife Donna’s collection of Wilton Armetale pewter plates. 

The couple’s four children are also grateful recipients of their father’s beautifully made pieces.

“One of my sons told me the other day he doesn’t have anything in his home I didn’t make,” laughs Don. 

The woodshop is well stocked with tools residents brought with them and donated when they moved to Tallgrass Creek. 

Bob Mueller coordinates the group, which gathers together the first Thursday morning of each month to catch up and review projects. 

Since moving to the community two years ago with his wife Jan, Bob has learned to use the lathe, a machine that shapes and smoothes wood, metal, or other material. 

“I’ve made several pieces using the lathe,” says Bob. “The woodshop is a great place to pick up tips from whomever is there working.” 

Toys and more

For the last few years, woodworkers have created doll cradles, step stools, and toy cars for the Johnson County [Kans.] Christmas Bureau, which sponsors a holiday shop each December that offers new clothing, toys, and gifts to low-income families. Tallgrass Creek is located in Johnson County, and residents have donated many items to the bureau in the past. 

Nestled in each of the cradles is a colorful quilt and mini mattress created by Tallgrass Creek’s talented knitters and quilters.

“This year, we made 23 mattresses and quilts,” says Lavetta Miller. “We make them every year for the cradles, and find it’s rewarding and fun.”  

Tallgrass Creek’s woodworkers also serve as handymen to their fellow neighbors by repairing furniture and lamps, hanging pictures and drapes, and performing other jobs that require outside assistance. They have even built items for the community such as the large magazine rack in Tallgrass Creek’s library. 

Many of the group’s handmade wares, including beautiful wooden ink pens, are always available at Tallgrass Creek’s annual crafts fair and other gatherings.    

Having a well-stocked place to design, build, and create is only part of the woodshop’s charm. On any day or evening, several Tallgrass Creek neighbors can be found in the shop working and chatting.

“It’s great camaraderie,” says Don. “It’s always a good time in the woodshop.”