Most people have a hobby: painting, stamp collecting and sewing. It’s a way to blow off steam after a long day at work.
For Master Sgt. Kevin Wilske, 355th Fighter Wing Plans and Programs superintendent, he enjoys building works of art out of wood.
Wilske’s wood working foundation began about two years ago. His hobby at the time, going to school, was over and he needed something to take its place.
“I always had an interest in wood and I needed a hobby, so it seems like a logical fit for me,” Wilske said. “I’m also originally a mechanic on the F-16, so I’m used to working with my hands.”
Like the saying goes: before you can walk, you must learn how to crawl. Wilske started his hobby slowly. He started off first with a single tool, a scroll saw. He would often visit the website woodworkingformeremortals.com, where he would find inspirational projects to try and replicate.
“I’ve built a number of things including signs, coin holders, a cube inside of another cube and wooden dice,” Wilske said. “The first sign I made was for my garage and it said “man cave” on it. I’ve made a few signs for family members. Outside of family members, the first sign I made was for Tech. Sgt. Christopher Poole, 355th FW Readiness and Programs non-commissioned officer in charge, and his church.”
His collection of mechanical instruments has grown to completely fill up his wood shop, which is located in his garage.
“I have a scroll saw, planer, jig saw, band saw, table saw, miter saw and a belt sander,” Wilske said. “When we moved here, I had to build two more work benches just to sustain the equipment I had while still having enough room to work.”
Anyone who’s stepped into a home improvement store can attest to the fact that wood can be quite expensive. Since Sergeant Wilske is still learning, he doesn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a piece that he could potentially mess up.
“Most of my material is salvaged,” Wilske said. “Sometimes I use pallet wood because it’s cheap. I’ve also gone to Home Depot and, back where they have the wood cutter, there’s a bin with scrap wood. It’s like 51 cents for scraps of wood. If I mess up one of those, it’s no big deal. If I need to make something out of a big piece of wood, I’ll just glue smaller pieces together.”
For now, Wilske has limited his hobby to only building projects for himself or other family members. He even made wooden whistles as a bit of payback from a loud, annoying toy his daughter received.
“This last Christmas, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law bought my daughter a drum set,” Wilske said. “To get back at them, I made train whistles for their kids. They were running around the house all day playing with their whistles.”
Throughout his time in the Air Force, Wilske has learned qualities that have translated well into his hobby.
“The military has helped me think outside the box and try to plan before I start working,” Wilske said. “It helps me not waste a bunch of time by doing things randomly. I also work with wood because it helps me learn patience. I need to make sure I go slowly with the wood and think of nothing else but safety.”
The idea of selling anything he’s made hasn’t crossed Wilske’s mind yet. He says when he becomes more confident, he may start. But for now, his hobby will remain just that; a place to go to get away for a while.
“Working with wood has helped me, to some degree, to be stress free,” Wilske said. “It’s my own little world I can go into. When the kids are playing Xbox and the wife is scrapbooking, it’s a place I can go. My own little man cave.”