Archbold, OH

Fairlawn Woodworkers Use Their Skills For Black Swamp Auction

Some local woodworkers have found a way to share their passion of working with wood, and at the same time, benefit others.

The craftsmen have been working steadily on projects for the Black Swamp Benefit Bazaar.

Lauren Bowman, Lester Nafziger, and Sam Oyer are three such artisans who ply their craft in the Fairlawn Haven woodshop.

Projects And Planning

For this year’s benefit, Bowman has created a decorative rolling pin and bowl, paper towel holder, and a child’s rocking chair.

Oyer made several clocks as well as a stand and mirror.

Nafziger created two plant stands, a hand-carved hall tree, and a lift-top coffee table similar to the one he donated to the recent Fairlawn Haven auction.

How do they pick projects?

“I just saw something I thought was nice and thought I could make. I’m always looking at people’s furniture for something I might copy,” said Bowman.

Oyer also got his idea from another stand and mirror he saw. He had made clocks previously, so it was easy to make a few more.

For Nafziger, making the plant stands was easy, because he has made many in the past.

How much time does each piece take?

“Well, we don’t punch a clock!” said Nafziger.

Bowman didn’t put much forethought into his donations.

“I thought the few things I had on hand, I’ll donate to the auction,” he said.

Oyer had some extra clocks he had made. The stand and the mirror, “I kind of made special” for the Black Swamp auction.

Nafziger said, “People ask ‘How long does it take to do a carving?’ and I tell them, ‘Until it’s finished.’

“I don’t keep track of any time I put into a project.”


The three men literally have decades of experience.

Oyer has worked with wood off and on for 50 years, but has done most of his work in the last six years.

Nafziger has been working with wood nearly 80 years, donating many items to area auctions.

Bowman hadn’t run a lathe since high school, but Nafziger “told me it was like riding a bike- you never forget. So he pushed me into making some bowls.”

He has made ornamental items for the last four years.

All three men are now retired. Working with wood, “is a good pastime. My wife accuses me of neglecting the flower garden, shrubbery, and edging my lawn when I’m off in the wood shop,” said Bowman.

Oyer chimed in, saying, “I’ve heard that a time or two.”

All agreed there was some truth in the statement.

Black Swamp Benefit

Bowman and Oyer have donated items to the Black Swamp Benefit for several years.

Nafziger has given objects much longer.

“We always try to find something more appealing; something that hasn’t been done year after year.

“That was the hardest part for me, to find something unusual to make,” said Nafziger.

The seventh annual Black Swamp Benefit Bazaar is a non-profit corporation that raises funds for Sunshine Inc., of Northwest Ohio and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

The benefit and auction takes place June 20-21 at the Fulton County Fairgrounds.

The men agree it’s a fulfilling feeling when their items bring a good price.

“We’re doing it to help what the auction is supposed to be for, to raise money for Sunshine and MCC,” Nafziger said.

“When you know that your items have brought in a nice return, it makes you feel good.”

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