Carvers put on a show at Pa. mall


SCOTLAND, Pa. - Woodcarvers seem to have a droll sense of humor.

Eugene Snider of Chambersburg, Pa., lifted the hood of the elaborate wooden truck he had made, displaying the wooden battery and motor. He told two visitors that he had figured out why he can't get the truck started - he'd forgotten to put cables on the battery.

At the opposite end of the long display table in Chambersburg Mall, Bill Commerer of Shippensburg, Pa., sat carving. When a visitor wondered why a cane displayed in front of him had "Nite Walker" carved on the handle, he moved the cane slightly and a red light in the handle started to flash.

Snider and Commerer were among several members of the Cumberland Valley Woodcarvers Club exhibiting their creations at Chambersburg Mall Sunday.

Snider's intricate, detailed models of stagecoaches, a school bus, a cement mixer and several trucks are made from ash and walnut that grows in his wood lot. He finishes them with several coats of polyurethane to bring out the color of the walnut. He makes them for "something to do" since he retired from farming, and does not sell them.


Commerer uses only a pocketknife to make his wooden creations. He said he has some fancy tools, but doesn't use them.

"I travel light - a stick, a knife, and something to sharpen it," he said.

Ray Reedy of Hagerstown, the club's president, displayed his whimsical figures. He started carving in 1955 when he was a Scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop and needed neckerchief slides. His wife, Betty, paints his figurines, and they sell them at craft shows.

Sam Horst of Greencastle, Pa., explained how he learned to carve: he picked up a knife and started. The owner of Horst Craft Cabinets for 33 years, Horst said when he retired, he picked up smaller tools. While he has donated carvings to his church and to Habitat for Humanity, he does not take orders for his creations.

"I took orders all my life, and I don't do it anymore," he said. "This is play time."

Horst's figure of a Jack Russell terrier, Tobie, won first place in the animal category.

Rita Johns of Spring Run, Pa., spent two weeks making a lifelike kestrel that earned a first-place ribbon. Her husband, Nick, carves and sells jewelry boxes and other items in the tramp art style. The couple has a refinishing business where they display and sell their woodcrafts.

Best of Show honors went to Bob Garnes of Chambersburg for an exquisitely carved grouse on a log. The grouse is perched on a log and is accented with leaves, a vine and morel mushrooms. The grouses' tail feathers are one piece, which was inserted into the body. The wing feathers were added individually. Details were applied with wood burning and painting.

Garnes, who has been carving for about 25 years, said it takes him "forever and a day" to complete a project.

"I don't keep track of the time. I have a couple of things in process at once," he said.

An avid hunter, Garnes limits his carving to realistic wildlife. He said he has collected wildlife pictures for years for reference.

"You can never have too much reference material," he said.

Garnes, 78, was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and retired from Letterkenny Army Depot 25 years ago. He built model airplanes before he started carving wildlife.

The woodcarvers' club, formed in January 1988, is looking for new members, regardless of experience. Meetings are held once a month at the Scotland Community Center, where members exchange ideas and help each other to learn new skills.

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