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The Workshop

Posted October 24, 2012 in Community Featured, Waukee

Jeff Mertz keeps busy in his woodworking shop.

With a three-stall garage and two cars, there should be no discussion about who leaves their car outside for the night.

At Mertz household, however, there is a car left outside every night, though there is not much discussion. Jennifer Mertz drives right into the single empty stall every day after work, with Jeff leaving his truck outside in the elements each night.

“Ten years ago, Wood Magazine wanted to feature the build-out of a woodworking shop in a third stall of a garage,” says  Jeff Mertz, who was an editor of the magazine at the time. “I was wanting to build a workshop, so I jumped right on board and we built this workshop, which I still use.”

In the 10 years since, the number of tools has grown to fill the entire third stall, and then some.

“It’s a full-blown-needs-three-times-the-space workshop,” laughs Mertz when asked if both vehicles could fit in their two extra stalls.

“Well, my workshop takes up quite a bit of space,” he says. “But my wife now has a pottery studio we built for her, complete with a wheel, sink and counter space.”

While Jeff is carefully fitting wood pieces together, crafting a new bench for an Eagle Scouts’ project or a desk for their bedroom, Jennifer is throwing a delicate tea set or a flower garden watering pot on her potters wheel next to him. She took up pottery several years ago and has studied in Colorado and South Carolina.

Drawing the two together, Jeff Mertz’ next wood project is a shelf for Jennifer’s pottery — a yunomi shelf — for displaying small non-ceremonial tea-bowls.

Over the years, Mertz has built most of the furniture in their home — benches, tables and chairs. His favorite piece — the one he would first show a visitor?

“It would have to be the desk in our bedroom,” he finally said after some thought. “It’s a drop-front reproduction of a 1900 Harvey Ellis piece.”

One of Mertz’s other favorite pieces is the bench he designed and built as part of an Eagle Scout project for the son of a friend. The bench now sits on the grassy lawn of the church at 142nd and Hickman and is available for all to “relax and set a spell.”





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