News WOODEN WONDERLAND: Clarke County Woodworker Spreads Christmas Cheer

WOODEN WONDERLAND: Clarke County Woodworker Spreads Christmas Cheer

WOODEN WONDERLAND: Clarke County Woodworker Spreads Christmas Cheer
November 23, 2010 |

For the better part of 47 years,
Frank “Bud” Rogers has been
elbows-deep in sawdust and
wood shavings. But the husband
and father of two wouldn’t have
it any other way. While the talent
was there all along, his interest in
woodworking was engrained during
childhood.”Growing up, my daddy worked
at a sawmill and he would bring
small scraps of wood home, and we’d
use those in a coal-burning stove,”
recalled Bud, with the makings of
a sheepish grin. “I’d keep out and
hide the pretty scraps so I could
make little boats or cars or whatever
I could, using just a handsaw and a
hammer. Eventually, I got to where I
could make airplanes, and when I got
older, I made model airplanes with
the gasoline engines and flew them.”
Fortunately for Bud, this childhood
hobby became quite the saving
grace of his adult life… even though
a life involving wood shavings
wasn’t always in his best-laid plans.”After I graduated from Livingston
College and married Julia in ’63,
we found ourselves in a house with
no furniture,” he explained. “I would
try to find something we could
afford, but as the search for furniture
continued, I’d look around and
think, ‘You know, I can fix something
close to that,’ and so that’s
how I really got started.”Living on a teacher’s salary in
Mobile, it didn’t take him long to
find out a career in education wasn’t
what he wanted to do with his life.
After the school year was over — and
at the urging of his parents — Bud
and Julia moved back up to Jackson
and he took a job at the paper mill…
work that would carry him for nearly
four decades.”I stayed at the mill 37 years,
but it seemed like that time passed
away so fast, I guess because we
were so busy,” said Bud. “I worked
shift work most of the time, but I
didn’t mind it because it seemed like
I had more time with my girls. Having
only one weekend off a month
was hard, but that one weekend was
sacred to us.”Retirement has helped increase
quality time with his girls — though
instead of time with Julia and his
two daughters, the time is now
shared with granddaughters Mary
Kate (12) and Ivy (10), along with
area children who are eager to get
their hands dirty.”I try to teach them basic safety
steps and simple things in woodworking,”
said Bud. “But it does my
heart good to go out there and see
the enthusiasm the kids have and
their want to learn.”Questioned by kids and adults
alike about his techniques and tools,
Bud is always happy to share his
wealth of knowledge — most gained
from trial-by-error exercises and hard
work. During these conversations,
though, one question never fails to
make an appearance.”A lot of people ask me where I
get my wood from,” says Bud. “And I
always tell them, ‘You’d be surprised
by how much wood people give
me.'”So how’d he get started with
ornaments?”I used to get one or two woodworking
magazines,” recalls Bud.”One day, a Christmas issue came
in and it had an article in there
teaching you how to make your own
Christmas ornaments. I looked at
’em and thought, ‘I can do that.’ So I
made six.”While inspiration came from
the article, he’s made a few modi-
fications. “The article showed the
ornaments painted. After two failed
attempts, I found out that I couldn’t
paint those things and knew there
had to be some other way to make it
work. Then one day, I saw in a
magazine where they made this
rolling pin with the laminated
wood, and I got the idea for laminating
the ornaments to get the
different colors and patterns.”On average, it takes Bud
about two days to glue individual
pieces of wood together
before they are ready to be
turned into an ornament. Once
turned, it takes another day to
be completely finished, requiring
a lacquer coating. While
ornaments are a favorite of Bud’s
to make because they’re quicker
to turn out and, like snowflakes,
no two are ever alike, there’s
an ulterior motive behind his
favorite hobby.”Believe it or not, I’m kind of
a Christmas nut!” he explains.
“I put a tree in the den with
colored lights covered in things
we’ve collected over the years.
Julia likes white lights, but I like the
colored lights because that’s what
I grew up with. So we put colored
lights on the tree by my chair in the
den, and I’ll just sit here and look at
it for hours. The tree in the living
room will have the white lights on it
and is completely decorated with . .
. ornaments and a few other tidbits
I’ve made over the years. I think we
put around 125 ornaments on the
tree in there… it’s loaded!”Over 47 years and countless
wooden works of art, Bud’s gifts
have found a place in the hearts and
homes of many. But it wasn’t until
recently that he discovered how
beneficial woodworking can be for
the soul. “I’ve realized over the last
few years that the most important
thing in woodworking is sharing it
with somebody,” he says. While his
list of recipients isn’t bogged down
with celebrities or HGTV personalities,
one of the more memorable
pieces he’s made belonged to a rather
big name in Alabama — Gov. George
Wallace.”I had a cousin who cut down a
walnut tree, and I went over there
to help him clear it away. (Former
Speaker of the Alabama House of
Representatives) Joe McCorquodale’s
wife, Betty — both of whom were
from Jackson — wanted me to do
something special for George [Wallace]
for a Christmas present. So I
used some of that walnut to make a
little newspaper stand for him, and
they loved it because it was made
out of local wood.”Though Bud primarily gives away
ornaments to family and friends or
sells them from his home in Jackson,
a few of his creations can be
found in Black Belt Treasures — a
non-profit organization developed
to showcase and promote the arts
of the Black Belt region. While his
relationship with the organization
originated from a familiar drive
and an ad in the local newspaper,
it’s a relationship that Bud is certainly
proud of.”When we go to Auburn, we
go through Camden,” he said. “We
had read about [Black Belt Treasures],
so one day when we were
going through there, we stopped
in.”Prices for Bud’s projects vary
based on type and size. His most
popular products are: ornaments,
$10; wine stoppers, $14.95; small
wooden Christmas trees, $15.95;
and large Christmas trees, $19.95.
Products are available from Bud
directly, by visiting Black Belt
Treasures in Camden or BlackBelt- Bud, whose ties to a sawmill
and his own retirement from the
paper mill still echo in his pastimes,
closing the door to the woodshed at
the end of the day doesn’t close the
door to planning his next project.”I lay awake at night thinking
about a different way I could laminate
that wood to where it will have
a different appeal to the eye,” he

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