- Associated Press - Friday, December 25, 2015

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - By age 8, Ron Halsema Jr. had made his first wooden tool box with the help of his father, Ron Halsema Sr. Shortly after, the young boy graduated to making wooden toys - again with his father’s help.

“I grew up in his woodshop,” Ron Halsema Jr. said.

Fast-forward 35 years later and the duo are still hand-making toys - this time it’s to stock the shelves of the younger Halsema’s Main Street shop, Halsema Custom Crafts in Lafayette.

Although a rarity these days, woodworking is a bond that transcends generations, harkens back to a simpler time, and sparks the creativity in young and old alike, according to the father and son team.

Both make the wooden toys. Halsema Sr. lives in Irmo, South Carolina, but sends the handmade toys to his son’s shop in Lafayette. They started earlier this year to build inventory for the holiday season.

“We sold more than we expected to honestly,” Halsema Jr. said. “The wood toys are fairly popular right now.”

Halsema Jr. opened his custom woodworking shop in March. He specializes in making furniture but started creating the toys to avoid wasting leftover wood scraps.

It takes about four hours for him to cut the wood pieces, assemble and paint.

“They’re kind of challenging (to make) because the parts are so small,” he said.

Halsema Jr. said customers like the toys because of the natural material and durability.

Although wooden toys are a novelty in today’s digital world, Halsema Sr. believes they have a place in a child’s toy box.

“I think it helps them grow their imagination and helps them grow beyond the iPad,” Halsema Sr. said. “All the electronic devices think for them, but I think this helps them think for themselves.”

Both men are passing down the tradition to younger generations.

Halsema Sr. said he teaches the craft to his grandchildren, and Halsema Jr. teachers local children in woodworking classes.

Halsma Jr. remembers playing with wooden toys as a child in his father’s workshop.

“A lot of times, I thought he wasn’t paying attention,” said Halsema Sr. “(It’s) my wildest dream that he’d start his own custom woodworking business.”

The toymaking helps the father and son bond even though they live miles apart.

“We talk to each other all the time,” Halsema Sr. said. “We share ideas back and forth. I’m probably learning more from him than he’s learning from me.”

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Source: (Lafayette) Journal and Courier, https://on.jconline.com/22lDce8

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Information from: Journal and Courier, https://www.jconline.com


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