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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Carving a career out of a hobby: Fort Dodge man masters art of woodworking

Gene Van Grevenhof of Fort Dodge said he started woodworking as a hobby. Then, he got addicted to the beautiful craft of "intarsia."

FORT DODGE, Iowa — For about eight hours a day, Gene Van Grevenhof can be found in his shop creating wooden masterpieces by hand.

"It started out as a hobby or something to do instead of sit in the house," Van Grevenhof told Local 5's Eric Gooden. "I cannot sit. And then this turned into, more or less, a business." 

Van Grevenhof used to drive a truck for about 23 years, but a back injury took him off the road. His back would again be his reason for leaving when he left his job at the local water company.

But his art is now his calling. 

"This is my, my domain," he said. "I love being out here. I love the smell of the wood. I love working." 

This specific woodworking is called "intarsia." 

"What is different is that you cut out different pieces, Dremel out, shape them up and start shaping each piece cut out," Van Grevenhof explained. "Each piece is Dremeled three times, and then it's put into a pattern." 

Van Grevenhof said he really got into intarsia when a friend brought over a scroll saw about a year ago. 

"I started doing this and I got addicted to it," he said. "Like, taking a piece of blank wood and saying, 'OK, what can I turn that wood into?' I've learned to love it. I've learned the love doing it. When you do a piece like this and you see the people's faces. I mean it's... it's, that's a lot of reward right there."