Woodworking creations fill retiree’s home

By Allison Marlow
Posted 9/27/17

Every piece of furniture in Fred Weingartner’s room is hand carved. The tables, the chairs, the lamps, even the tabletop décor.

The key is the right cut. The exact cut, says Weingartner as he …

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Woodworking creations fill retiree’s home

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Every piece of furniture in Fred Weingartner’s room is hand carved. The tables, the chairs, the lamps, even the tabletop décor.

The key is the right cut. The exact cut, says Weingartner as he gently pushes the center of a wooden cross and the entire structure opens like an accordion.

To watch each cross unfold into a smaller cross, and again, a smaller cross, the key seems more like magic. There are no nails, fasteners or glue - just precisely cut crosses, fit together to create moving artwork.

Weingartner, 88, a resident of Country Place Senior Living of Foley, said he made about 100 of the crosses as part of a woodworking business that grew from a hobby when he retired.

At age 50 he left his job at a sand and gravel quarry company in Massachusetts and hit the road in an RV with his wife. They toured the country for 12 years. Eventually, the pair built a house in southern Baldwin County and Weingartner purchased his first saw.

“I studied the patterns,” he says. “If you hit the board at just the right angle, it’s not hard.”

Weingartner filled their new home with dressers, tables and chairs. Meanwhile his wife painted landscapes and used a wood burner to add delicate flower and leaf designs to Weingartner’s creations. She passed away five years ago.

When U.S. troops began deploying to the Mideast, Weingartner began creating what he calls “clinging crosses” slightly turned crosses that are carved at a curve to fit in the palm of the hand and between the fingers. Each clinging cross took three to four hours to make.

Weingartner said he made thousands and sent the bulk of them to service members stationed overseas.

Now, his creations are the prized décor in his room at Country Place. Staff and residents alike peek in for a glimpse at the beautiful creations.

Though Weingartner gave his tools to a family friend years ago, he said he is willing to teach anyone who wants to try.

“It’s very easy. I can show them,” he says.