“Welcome to my world,” Stephen Willner told a News-Sentinel reporter outside Willner’s woodshop on wheels.
Called “Willie’s Rolling Workshop,” Willner will teach children woodshop for recreation classes, camps, home-school classes, play dates, bar and bat mitzvahs, and church festivals.
He uses a converted bus with 10 work benches behind the driver’s and passenger seat.
“I’m very happy doing this,” said Willner, who lives on 2 acres just west of Galt. “I have a catalogue of 50 projects.”
Children, ages 5 through 14 will make such items as clocks (Willner supplies the batteries), signs, memo holders, basketball games, bird houses and lollipop holders.
They learn how to use basic hand tools, use saws, shape and sand wood, drill holes, turn screws and drive nails until their project is completed. Children must come ready to pay attention and follow safety rules. Safety goggles or glasses are provided during the class.
The classes are one hour long, and most projects can be completed in one class, Willner said. All tools and materials are supplied.
“I’m very cautious about safety,” he said.
Willner grew up in Palo Alto and developed his passion for woodshop when he was in middle school. He began teaching woodshop, but it became hard to find jobs due to budget cuts in the schools, he said.
He and his wife, Maryjane, moved to the Portland, Ore., area, but they returned to California because his father became seriously ill.
“I loved it up there (in Oregon), but it was too wet for my wife,” Willner said.
They decided to not return to the Bay Area because of the high cost of housing, so they moved to Galt in 2002. He recently got a teaching position at a middle school in Modesto.
In addition to his wife, Willner has two daughters, Stacy Longstreth of Lodi and Kristi Gray of Santa Clara.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.