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Goessel artisan makes time for his hobby building clocks

Staff writer

Orie Voth’s passion for woodworking began in a one-room schoolhouse near Goessel.

As a student at Good Hope School, Voth looked forward to Friday afternoons after recess because that was when students did woodworking.

“Woodworking has been my pastime since grade school,” said Voth, 89.

He will display his work 8 a.m. to noon June 13 in his garage at 306 S. Church St., Goessel.

Voth bought his first woodworking tool, a small turning lathe, for no more than $5, maybe as little as $2.50. Before long he traded it in for a larger lathe, which he still has.

He found his specialty in 1980, after he and wife, Frida, moved to town. She wanted a clock so she could pay attention to the time while sewing, and Voth decided to make her one.

Visitors saw the handcrafted clock and asked to buy it. Voth agreed and made a new one to replace it.

He still has the 50th clock he made hanging in his living room. Each of the past 24 years he has donated a clock to the Mennonite Central Committee charity sale.

All of his clocks are of his own design. He begins with plain lumber, almost exclusively oak.

It takes about four days to complete one clock, excluding time for glue to dry.

Voth buys the mechanical workings of his clocks from catalogues. Larger clocks have space for chimes.

“It sure has been fun for me,” Voth said.

He also crafts other wood products, including magazine racks, quilt racks, and cradles. He has several gavels made from scraps left from large clocks.

Every piece he makes is “branded,” saying it is handcrafted by Voth.

He even fashioned some of his own tools. He has several chisels made from metal files, which are harder than store-bought chisels and stay sharper longer.

Last modified June 4, 2009

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