Woodworker's birdhouses

Award-winning woodworker John Wudl shows off some of the birdhouses he has crafted for sale on Web sites such as etsy.com

What started out as a hobby for John Wudl has transformed into a passion — and a business.

Wudl, 56, of Shenango Township, has been around woodworking since he was a child. His father, who was also a woodworker by hobby, inspired Wudl to start fiddling with the trade.

“My father built boats for fishing on Pymatuning, so I acquired his tools,” Wudl said. “He taught me his skills.”

Wudl, whose name sounds like his trade, works for Alpha Telecom, took drafting at Sharpsville High School and started practicing woodworking as a hobby, building from the skills he learned from his father.

Those skills, which he has developed over 40 years, have translated into “Wudl’s Woodshop,” a business run right from his backyard. Wudl sells everything from bird houses to jewelry boxes, building anything and everything by hand.

“Give me a hunk of board and some time and I’ll do it myself,” Wudl said.

Wudl, who has won two woodworking contests, one through the electronics Web site www.newegg.com and the other through the defunct www.modshop.com, shows expertise in his ability to add a homegrown taste to personal woodworked pieces.

Having built much of the wooden cabinetry and decorations in his house, Wudl said that through the online community www.etsy.com and his own www.wudlswares.com, he’s been contacted by people from across the country who like his work enough to order custom pieces.

Wudl, who said that etsy.com boasts more than 200,000 members involved in some sort of craftsmanship, whether it is ceramics or jewelry, said the Internet has helped to put his product in front of people who probably would never have seen it.

“I’d have to go someplace else to sell my wares,” Wudl said. “But online, the whole world can see it.”

Wudl, who is adding new machines to his shop, plans to pursue his craft further after he retires, hoping to attend more craft shows where he can sell his wares.

Until then, he plans to continuing to do the thing that means the most to him -- crafting pieces out of wood.

Christopher Lehberger of New Wilmington is a senior public relations major at Westminster College.

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