A Cut Above

Vern Schanilec creates art out of recycled lumber

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A retired pharmacist with Midwestern roots is finding joy through the hobby of woodworking.

For Vern Schanilec, 76, it started five years ago when he thought of creating an arbor at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, in Washougal.

After that project, he built a second arbor — with seating for four — that leads into a public peace garden at the church.

“That’s the best thing I’ve ever made,” Schanilec said.

“It gives me a chance to express the art that’s in my soul,” he added, regarding woodworking.

Schanilec’s studio is in his garage, at home in Washougal.

Everything is made from recycled lumber. Some of the wood is found near Schanilec’s residence.

He said those pieces would normally end up in someone’s fireplace.

One of Schanilec’s creations, includes many pieces of wood nailed to a 7-foot tower.

“Everyone should have one in their home,” he said.

Sunbursts are among the popular woodworking designs.

Schanilec said the challenging aspects of woodworking include determining the accuracy of the cut made by the saw’s blade.

In his garden, there are accent pieces such as “faux birdhouses” and wood shaped to look like butterflies, birds and dragonflies, attached to a picket fence.

A trellis, created of recycled wood, serves as a host to honeysuckle.

There is a dented gas can, from Schanilec’s parents’ farm in North Dakota. He uses it to water plants.

A wagon rim from the early 1900s hosts some climbing variegated ivy.

Schanilec, a Master Gardener, advises people regarding landscaping. He is the author of several books about gardening.

Some of Schanilec’s wood artwork is on display and available to purchase at LJC Feed and Patty-O Garden and Country Store, 3501 N.E. Third Ave., Camas.

Custom orders are accepted, and the art can also be directly purchased from him. For more information, contact Schanilec at 335-0503 or or visit