Getting Crafty: Woodworking at Kendal at Lexington


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Kendal at Lexington residents are many things — writers, teachers, innovators, artists and more. And thanks to the woodshop located in the lower level of Sunnyside House at Kendal at Lexington, several residents are also craftsmen.

The woodshop is available for all residents to use if they need a specialized piece of equipment. While the space isn’t designed for substantial woodworking projects, there are plenty of large tools and enough room to get creative. The shop has a table saw, band saw, chop saw and drill press, among other tools. As resident Burrell Fisher puts it, “some of the fellas have done some real interesting work in there.”

And though he doesn’t consider himself an artist, Burrell has dabbled in making small pieces of furniture and is currently working on a project for Miller’s House Museum. He also acts as the unofficial point person for the woodshop — a role he didn’t exactly intend to take on. “With my engineering background, when I first came, I did some straightening up and then sort of fell into it,” he says. “When someone new comes, either me or some of the other resident craftsmen will give them a quick tour.”

When Woodworking and Bird Watching Collide

Another resident who has made use of the woodshop is Nelson Potter, who carves and paints life-like birds. While he does a fair amount of his carving in the garage of his cottage, the woodshop is essential for his larger projects. “The band saw is the tool I use mostly,” he says. “I use it for the rough cut out and shaping and chiseling of my projects. It’s ideal because I can create a heck of a mess in there and not bother my wife.”

Nelson has been carving birds for more than 40 years — a hobby that he has now built into a small (“I mean, really small,” he clarifies) business. One day, he just decided to carve a Canadian goose, and the rest is history. “After I did that one, I started doing some small birds and some decoys and selling them to friends here and there,” he says.

Art Put to Practical Use

Another Kendal woodworker, Cleve Hickman, fills his time by crafting a variety of different types of furniture. From bookcases and chairs, to porch swings and picnic tables, Cleve keeps busy with projects commissioned by friends — and he even built two bookshelves in Kendal’s own Tutwiler Library!

He does all of his work out on a nearby small farm he and his wife have owned for nearly 50 years. “I built the shop building probably 45 years ago and just gradually enlarged it,” he explains. “I have a very complete woodworking shop — all the basic power tools that one would need to build these things.”

In fact, Cleve crafts his pieces purely for the love of the hobby, and only charges his patrons for materials. Like Burrell and Nelson, he just loves the process and ability to continue creating. “It’s been a lot of fun,” he says. “It’s been a challenge, but it’s just something to do as I get older.”

Are you interested in living a creative life at Kendal at Lexington? Contact us or call 888-467-6115 to learn more.

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