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Local woodworker available to help with custom projects

After teaching for 33 years, Bob Starzl (pictured above in his shop attached to his home in Perham) has recently started up a woodworking business, and has already completed several projects in the lakes area. He eventually hopes to work with people to help them finish their own custom projects, providing instruction when needed.1 / 2
At left, Bob and Alice Starzl in their kitchen in front of the hickory cabinets Bob made.2 / 2

If there's a woodworking project that seems a little too daunting to take on by yourself, Bob Starzl may be able to help.

After teaching high school Industrial Arts classes for 33 years, 61-year-old Bob Starzl has experience with helping beginning woodworkers fashion just about any project you can imagine. Now retired, he's hoping to utilize some of the woodworking skills he's honed to help locals with their dream projects.

Everything from cabinets to cribs, gun cases to bedroom sets are examples of some of Starzl's finished work. He says if people have a vision for a project, maybe even just something they've seen in a magazine, he's willing to work with them to help bring it to fruition.

Starzl and his wife, Alice moved to the Perham area about a year and a half ago, relocating here after Bob retired from teaching in Edgerton, MN. Alice, who spent 33 years working at a nursing home in Edgerton, now works at Perham Memorial Home. The Starzls have a camper on Golden Eagle, and have been coming up to the East Otter Tail lakes area for years.

The Perham retail shops, moderate size of the town and family nearby were what motivated the Starzls to pick Perham as their city of choice when entering into retirement. They both say that having the opportunity to get more involved with their grandkids is one of the best parts of living here.

In addition to the time he's enjoying as a grandpa, Starzl has also found his family to be an inspiration behind many of the woodworking pieces he's created. He's made cribs for his grandchildren and is working on a bedroom set for his son and daughter-in-law.

"I build custom cabinets, kitchen cabinets, islands, furniture, kids toys," says Starzl, just touching on a few of his past woodworking endeavors. He's also made cedar chests, rocking horses, and a crib that converts into a daybed. He even made a playhouse once.

Individual projects, like a china hutch or a bedroom set, are Starzl's favorite type of project to build. He uses a variety of wood types in his work, including oak, cherry, and walnut.

Starzl has also done a lot of projects in the house they purchased, just off of Fort Thunder Road in Perham. He redid much of the kitchen, creating custom hickory wood cabinets and drawers. He also turned an addition on the back of the house into a woodworking shop, which will provide him with space to work-and possibly even allow room for a few others to make projects alongside him.

"While I was teaching, it was more like a hobby" Starzl explains of his growing fascination with woodworking. He says one of his favorite parts of the trade is continuing to try new projects, tackling the unique challenges as they come.

An important part of Starzl's work is that it's all custom made. "Custom means that you build something for someone that they can't go to the store and buy," he says. For example, if someone needed a bathroom vanity with unusual dimensions, Starzl could create one that fits exactly into the available space, in dimensions not offered at a typical retail store.

Even though he's not completely set up as a "help you build it" business yet, Starzl is pursuing that concept for a business. His plans are to start out small, and see where the business takes him. For now, he offers custom cabinetry and furniture through Starzl's Woodworking, 218-371-7696.

"My dream would be to get some type of adult education going," he says. In the past, Starzl has taught industrial arts related classes through community education.