A wooden sign with the name, “Logan,” carved into it hangs on a wall in the garage. It used to be the seat of a friend’s old workbench; now it marks 13-year-old Logan Pelchat’s workstation, where he spends hours quietly turning wood and welding metal.
While Pelchat has been working with wood since he was five years old, he started seriously woodturning about three and a half years ago. He’s made bowls, cups, bookends, candle-holders, skateboards and more, using different types of wood from cherry to walnut to maple.
“Sometimes he spends six to eight hours in here,” said Pelchat’s dad, Mike, who transformed their garage into a wood shop for Logan.
The younger Pelchat warms as he begins talking about his art, what kinds of tools he uses, and his new foray into knife-making.
“It’s quiet,” he said simply, when asked what he likes about woodworking. He enjoys being in his own space, sinking into the quiet and working with his hands. He also thinks it’s nice to get away from technology. “There’s so much technology in the house,” he said. “Usually, I’m out here.”
According to Pelchat, one bowl takes him about three to four hours to make. He doesn’t usually sketch out his creations beforehand, but prefers to dive in with the whisper of an idea. “Sometimes if I don’t have a clear idea I’ll just hang out [here] until something pops into my head,” he said, gesturing to the wood shop. While he doesn’t sketch out his designs, Pelchat is an avid artist as well and enjoys drawing and painting.
“Logan has ADHD and Tourrette’s syndrome so this is something that he really sinks into,” explained Mike. The wood shop provides a nice get-away from school, to relax and be creative—sort of like a treehouse, in its own way. Logan, his brother and his dad are also avid bass-fishermen, and Logan said he likes fishing for similar reasons—”It’s quiet,” he said.
On another wall of the garage-turned-wood shop is a collage of photos of the boys on their fishing escapades. One photo shows a younger Logan holding up a large bass. At the center of the photos is a sign that reads, “If I’m fishing, I’m happy.”
At the moment, Pelchat is crafting a longboard with his dad, but aside from personal projects, he also makes commission pieces which he’s sent as far as New York and Maryland. He recently built a computer-holder for his school, and he’s currently working on a commissioned case for his band conductor’s baton.
About a month ago, he saw a video tutorial of a guy making a knife—since then, Logan has made three knives. “It’s way harder,” he said, than wood turning.
When he grows up, Pelchat hopes to continue working with wood and metal, or he wants to work at The Tree House Hardwoods and Millshop, where he goes with his dad to find wood. His face lights up even more at the mention of The Tree House.
“When he goes in there it’s like Norm from Cheers,” said Mike, smiling. “They don’t get a lot of kids in there,” he explained, so The Tree House guys are always happy to see Logan.
While Logan has been learning how to weld with his dad, Mike expressed a desire to enter Logan into a blacksmith apprenticeship, but said he felt like there is a dearth of opportunities for young people who want to learn about wood and metal working. With wood shop as a class increasingly left out of school curriculums, and a rising tendency to put money towards STEM and sports programs rather than the arts, Mike wondered what other opportunities exist for young folks.
Next year, Logan will attend Colchester High School as a freshman and he hopes to take a welding or woodworking elective class at Essex Tech Center. Until then, he is open for business.