Minnetonka carpenter expands creativity at Excelsior Farmers Market

Carpenter Ben Pawlak, with Rusty Nail Woodcraft Inc., returns for his third Excelsior Farmers’ Market season, to feature his uniquely crafted wood pieces. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Paige Kieffer) One of the products carpenter Ben Pawlak features at the Excelsior Farmers’ Market is duck book ends. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Paige Kieffer) Other products include mortar and pestles and jewelry boxes made from recycled maple, walnut and cherry woods and also Brazilian cherry and African padauk. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Paige Kieffer)
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Carpenter Ben Pawlak, with Rusty Nail Woodcraft Inc., returns for his third Excelsior Farmers’ Market season, to feature his uniquely crafted wood pieces. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Paige Kieffer)

By Paige Kieffer
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The summer season for the Excelsior Farmers Market started May 2 and many of the usual vendors have returned, including carpenter Ben Pawlak with Rusty Nail Woodcraft Inc.

Ashley Nelson helps her son August Gurgel play one of carpenter Ben Pawlak’s drums. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Paige Kieffer)

Pawlak’s stand features unique and beautifully crafted book ends, drums, chess boards, cutting boards, jewelry boxes, cribbage boards, kitchen utensils, clip boards, mortar and pestle and spin tops.

“Each thing I sell is uniquely made,” Pawlak said. “No two items are alike.”

Pawlak, who has been a cabinetmaker by trade in Minnetonka since 1985, creates these items with scrap wood he collects from various jobs.

“I started doing this when the economy took a nosedive and I’d go in the shop and fill up my time,” he said. “A lot of the products I use are recycled leftover scraps from cabinet jobs. I reuse whatever I can and that’s the fun part.”

Pawlak uses recycled maple, walnut and cherry woods. Some woods purchases, including Brazilian cherry and African padauk, that adds color and depth to his pieces.

As many as seven woods can be found in Pawlak’s wood pieces. He says all the woods are glued together and then shaped to form the piece.

“I love working with my hands,” Pawlak said. “Unlike cabinet making, this has a little more creativity. Give me a tree branch and I’ll make wooden mushrooms out of them. This has more creativity and it’s really thinking outside the box. Whatever my imagination can come up with, I’ll try and do.”

This is Pawlak’s third year with the market, which is 2-6 p.m. every Tuesday through September on Water Street in downtown Excelsior.

“Excelsior is a really great place to be and the city has been very good for me,” Pawlak said. “I really enjoy being here. There’s so much flavor and great things going on in Excelsior. It’s amazing!”

The Excelsior market is the only one Pawlak attends, so his work is a unique find.

“I get a lot of joy from the products I make including my cabinets and art pieces,” he said. “I’m leaving something behind that people will use and enjoy for 20-30 years. That’s the fun part of doing this.”

For more information, visit rustynailwoodcraft.com.