MILWAUKEE -- April is National Woodworking Month and a shop in Milwaukee is offering classes to get people started.
"We bring in people who have virtually never done anything before and help them create a small project," Gary Datka, an instructor at Rockler Woodworking said. "It's not an all day project but something they can do in an hour or two."
Woodworking is one of Datka's hobbies. He finds the process of creating things from wood cathartic and rewarding. After finishing one of his pieces, he can't help but feel proud.
"I like to be able to make things and bring it from a block of wood and create something from that," Datka said. "Sometimes I don't know what it's going to be until I start cutting. I start cutting and look at the piece of wood and it might be a piece of art or it might be a bowl to use in the kitchen."
Datka's passion is something of a rarity. Wood shop classes are seen less and less in schools today so kids aren't introduced to woodworking. These classes are a way to get kids and adults into woodworking and make it less intimidating.
"Most tools are easy enough to be used," Datka said. "They're not looking for your fingers. It's not hard. It's easy. It's fun. It's great for a family to work with. I've taught fathers and daughters and fathers and sons. They all were able to come in and have a good time with it."
The classes teach simple techniques that can transfer to home use. They cost between $25 and $60 and people make signs, bottle openers or ice cream scoopers with wooden handles and even bluetooth speakers.
The things people make are both practical and look great. Datka's personal work looks more like things you'd make in a master class. So the woodwork is about more than just practicality.
"I do believe what I do is art," Datka said. "Art is at the eye of the beholder of course, but when I create something, it starts out as a log. I make something from it. I may not know what it's going to be at the beginning but it will turn out to be something and hopefully someone else will think it's really nice as well."
Classes run for all of April. In May and June, they'll have a free class for children to make something for Mother's Day and Father's Day. Information on these events can be found on their