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WoodStock Wood Show: At the centre of the three-day show is carving competition displaying talents of local woodworkers

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Bryan Mertens learned how to be a woodworker without the power tools that other modern-day carpenters take for granted.

Now the owner of Nordale Woodworking of Otterville, Mertens trained under Amish woodworker Benjamin Miller for seven years before purchasing the business from him.

“I started working with Ben part-time and part-time turned into full-time,” Mertens said. “He offered me his business two years ago and I said yes.”

Using only a diesel-fuelled generator, with motors replaced by pulleys, Mertens slowly learned how to create tables, bedroom sets and 22 types of chairs, as well as outdoor furniture from recycled plastic.

Based in Otterville, Mertens loves to work with maple because “if finishes nicer” and focuses on sourcing area materials.

“We’re big on buying from local sawmills,” he said.

Merten’s company was one of 100’s of vendors at this year’s WoodStock Wood Show.

The show is also home to Ontario Woodworking Championship where dozens of works are judged and admired by show goers.

Bob Van Parys, also of Otterville, said he was at the show to “see all the talent.”

“It’s amazing what people can do if they put their minds to it,” Van Parys said. “The (many) hours — I appreciate that — they have to be very dedicated to their work. If you have tinkered with woodworking you appreciate the people that have developed the high skills.”

Mark Sheridan, the soon-to-be president of the Ontario Wood Carvers Association, was hoping to sign up new members for the association but also had time to take in the show.

“This where all the carvers come,” he said. “It’s a great competition; it inspires you to see new things.”

HRivers@postmedia.com