Basehor resident Dan Gilewitch took advantage of a woodworking workshop for soldiers when he was stationed at West Point. He ended up stumbling on a hobby that would last throughout his adult life. After starting by taking a picture framing class, he soon discovered the woodworking shop next door and knew he wanted to create more things with his hands.
Unfortunately, there were times during his military career that he had to abandon his woodworking hobby due to balancing family life while his children were young as well as the logistics of having access to large power tools that were needed. It also wasn’t practical to purchase large tools such as a planer or table saw and move those items from place to place, especially with several moves overseas, including to Germany and Egypt. Once he decided to retire, Gilewitch knew he would be able to dedicate more time to woodworking, so he began collecting the larger power tools he would need to pursue his hobby.
“I had no concept of how much fun this hobby would turn out to be once I had time to pursue it. Being retired means having the time to devote to fun things without being on the clock. That opened a whole new facet of the hobby for me,” Gilewitch said. “Creating something out of wood takes a long time, at least for me it does. Now I have the time to do that and it is really satisfying to build something with my own hands and have people appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it.”
His woodworking projects have ranged from furniture and cabinets to kitchen utensils and pens, all built in his workshop, which Gilewitch also designed and built himself. While he has occasionally sold some of the items, he generally gives his creations away to family and friends. He also donates to selected fundraising events.
Determined to keep woodworking truly as his hobby, Gilewitch has an impressively diverse portfolio of items he has created over the years including bookcases, wooden cooking utensils, bookends, television carts, pepper grinders, a secretary desk, nesting trays and a coat tree, but he has no plans to make that hobby into a business.
Gilewitch also sees his hobby as both creating and crafting because he rarely follows plans created by someone else for his projects. Deadlines and mass production to meet demand for his projects would take the fun out if the hobby. Seeing the happiness in the recipient’s eyes is what brings pleasure to his heart.
His first project, a small pie chest made of pine, is still being used today by Gilewitch’s youngest son, but it is a hobby table he built for his grandkids that he is most proud of.
“The reason I am so happy with this project is that it turned out to be surprisingly beautiful and it has withstood years of kids crawling, sitting and standing on it, and generally abusing it as only kids can,” Gilewitch said. “I would have it no other way, though. It remains a fixture in my eldest son’s living room where the kids use it nearly every day.”
Beth Kornegay is a freelance writer covering news and events in the city of Basehor. If you have a story idea, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org