EL PASO Retired Vilonia School District teacher and coach Steve Shock still remembers the first time he created something out of wood more than 40 years ago.
Now, Shock, 60, has his woodworking projects on exhibit in the El Paso Community Library during September as part of the Artist of the Month program. He has cutting boards in all shapes and sizes, as well as other pieces.
“I’ve always had an interest in it [woodworking] that probably goes back to when I was in junior high at Conway and in an industrial-arts class with Mr. Halsey,” Shock said. “I built a gun cabinet. I was fascinated, like any 14-, 15-year-old kid who likes outdoors, with guns and woodwork.”
Shock, who coached through the 2001-2002 school year and retired from teaching in 2011, said he didn’t pick up woodworking until about four years ago when he started making cedar furniture.
“We’ve got rent houses, and I’m constantly remodeling, so I had a lot of tools to begin with,” he said.
Shock started a business called County Line Wood Work, which refers to the road he lives on in Faulkner County near El Paso.
In addition to his signature cutting boards, Shock also makes countertops, shelves, Lazy Susans and more. He uses a variety of wood, including red oak, white oak, maple, walnut, pecan and Padauk, an exotic African wood. “It’s a redwood. It really highlights my cutting boards,” he said.
“Paduka, now I bought it from a man at Hardy who handles a lot of exotic wood. I do like walnut. It’s a beautiful wood; it’s dark. Some people like white oak; some people like cherry. I use a blend of all of it. Every piece I make has its own characteristics; it’s a little bit different.”
His cutting boards, for example. “Some are more squarish; some are rectangular; some I’ve made circles; some look like checkerboards. I’ve made two or three designs of a long board — a bread-board type. I make several at a time. Everything’s by hand,” he said.
Shock said he finds wood anywhere he can.
“I’m a scrounger,” he said. “I’m always looking on Craigslist. I’ve got contacts with some sawmills.”
Shock said Judy Riley contacted him about showing his work. She volunteers at the library that opened in January and wrote grants for the renovation of the building, a former bank.
Riley, who teaches part time at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, said she and Shock are neighbors, too.
“I told her, ‘I’m a long way from an artist,’” Shock said, laughing. “I’m a piddler. I just go out and put something together.”
“He is; he really is [an artist],” she said. Riley said she likes Shock’s use of different woods and the designs he uses for his cutting boards, including the checkerboard pattern. “They’re really, I think, very artsy.”
Shock said he has started taking his wares to festivals and craft fairs, including the Mountain View Folk Festival. His calendar is full of other events that he plans to attend, too.
“All these things are new to me; I didn’t even know most of them were out there,” he said of the festivals.
For now, though, his work — his art — can be seen at the library.
Library hours are 10 a.m to 6 p.m Tuesday, 10 am. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, noon to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
More information about Shock’s work is available at www.facebook.com/clwoodworks or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or email@example.com.