William Wike would not call himself a patient man.
“I have one speed and it’s 900 mph,” the Brookfield resident said.
However, Wike understands that there are times when he has to slow down, such as when he’s cutting a piece of wood on a band saw or waiting for glue to dry.
“I just know that you can’t rush certain things,” he said.
Wike is a wood artist who does not take the easy route. He will take the time to glue little squares together to make a cutting board, a serving tray or a chess board. He’ll cut very thin strips of wood to glue between wider strips of a different kind of wood so that a piece has contrast.
And, he as a sense for the potential of a piece of wood that most people don’t.
“Most of my wood comes from out there in the firewood pile,” he said, motioning to the long line of split
wood on his property on North Albright McKay Road.
Sometimes, he’ll glance at a log just before he is going to throw it in the wood burner and something will catch his eye: a grain, a color, a knot, or the way what was once a branch shoots outward.
“He looks at a piece of wood and it’s, ‘Oh, I can rescue that,’ instead of burning it,” said his wife, Evie.
He also will take old tables and pieces of furniture that people are looking to burn or throw away and refinish or repurpose them, and occasionally buys exotic wood, such as South American purple heart or African padauk.
Wike, who will show and sell pieces July 31 and Aug. 1 at the Hermitage Arts Festival, is the son of a
general contractor, also named William.
“By the time I was old enough to use a shovel and a broom, I was out there building houses,” Wike said.
The elder Wike bought his son a lathe and a drill press when the boy was 12.
“I took all the wood shop classes in high school,” said Wike, who grew up in Cortland.
After high school and four years in the Marines, Wike went back to building houses, then moved on to
jobs in which he worked with wood, but that weren’t so physically demanding. Over time, he has amassed
a tool and machine collection largely assembled from garage sale, flea market and auction purchases.
Now retired, he does what he wants. He’ll take commissions for refinishing jobs or original pieces, or
make gifts for friends and family members.
The Hermitage Arts Festival will be only Wike’s second show, following an appearance at the Brookfield
United Methodist Church Craft Show a couple of years ago.
“We’re running out of room to keep some of this stuff,” said the colon cancer survivor.
At the Hermitage show, Wike will have serving trays, picture frames, cutting boards, kitchen utensils,
planters, band saw boxes and Christmas ornaments.
“It’s just something I like to do,” he said.
The festival will run noon to 9 p.m. July 31 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 1 in Rodney White Olympic Park, 800 N. Hermitage Road, and is free to visitors.