Tonawanda News

Local News

January 5, 2014

Creative Craftsman

Tonawanda News — BARKER — A visit to Elmer Lyndaker’s barn is a bit like a visit to Santa’s workshop. Magic happens amid the dusty farm implements, piles of wood and projects in varying stages of completion.

Wood is Lyndaker’s specialty. After working in the lumber business for many years, he uses the colors, grains and distinct properties of local and exotic woods to create everything from furniture to heirloom clocks and bowls.

At age 90, Lyndaker is always busy creating beautiful patterns and intricate designs. One of the most popular features of his handiwork is delicate walnut shell art. Lyndaker cuts each black walnut on a huge saw, getting one perfect slice from the middle of the nut. Then begins the long process of poking out the nutmeats to leave the inside webbing intact.

“I designed a special tool to poke the nuts out, but it’s a painstaking process,” Lyndaker said.

Only the black walnut is hard enough for the job, and neighborhood squirrels are always vying for his crop. A huge pile of cut shells and nutmeats sit outside the barn door, feeding birds, squirrels and Lyndaker’s longtime canine companion, Rascal.

Lyndaker has created clock sculptures that sit proudly in his Lake Road home, and he has been busy recently making bowls that were in demand for holiday gifts. The rustic-looking items always turn out to be one-of-a-kind, because Lyndaker’s imagination is always at work.

The master woodworker likes to use different wood colors and grains for inlays and scroll work pieces. He has designed everything from inlaid trays to magnificent scroll cut butterflies mounted on wire — an affordable way for more people to have a piece of his art.

The quiet, unassuming farmer loves that people enjoy his work and he loves to share it, but the painstaking process doesn’t lend itself to commercial enterprise.

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