From Kaleidoscopes to a Guitar, Riviera Resident Chris Stauff Tackles Projects of All Shapes and Sizes
By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Longtime Palisadian Chris Stauff has found himself recently retired and enjoying his favorite pastime more than ever: woodwork.
“I have this hobby and really enjoy it, I’ve been doing it for about 50 years,” Stauff said to the Palisadian-Post. “I’ve always been kind of handy with tools.”
The Riviera resident said he is mostly self-taught and has been working on his craft since he was in high school, sharing that he caught “the woodworking bug early on.”
He also credited the El Camino Woodturners Guild for helping correct his bad habits. He said the group would meet once per month to share ideas and provide demonstrations.
From natural-edge bowls and plates to goblets and kaleidoscopes, Stauff has crafted numerous wooden pieces out of star pine, macadamia and more.
Stauff said a majority of his wood is sourced locally from the Palisades. He gathers abandoned wood from Temescal Canyon, from trees that come down in his neighborhood, and every now and then, he indulges in exotic woods.
He works straight out of his garage where he has acquired quite a bit of machinery and gained a number of neighborhood friends.
One is Huntington resident Dennis Richardson, who initially pursued rock sculpting. Stauff taught Richardson how to woodturn—something he has been doing for about 40 years—and “now he’s worlds better” than he is, Stauff said.
“I’ve met just some of the best people in the world,” Stauff said to the Post.
Stauff explained that woodturning is when a lathe is used and a motor turns a piece of wood rapidly while using a toolbar to introduce a wooden chisel and shape it.
Stauff has also delved into creating musical instruments with a neighbor, making ukuleles and mandolins until the duo decided to tackle the guitar—which Stauff said has been his most difficult project to date.
While smaller pieces may take hours or a couple of days, the guitar took two years to make.
“Musical instruments are a lot more complicated than I ever imagined,” he said. “There are a lot of precise measurements … we wanted to do it right.”
But his favorite pieces to create are bizzaros from manzanita burls, where he can be creative seeking an image in the wood and bringing it to life.
“My kids love them, my wife hates them,” Stauff said with a laugh. “It’s just taking a piece of wood, taking off the oxidation and finding the critter that’s in there. It’s like ‘Game of Thrones’ where they have the weirwoods and the creatures in the trees.”
Stauff said he embellishes bizzaros with eyes and uses bone to create a set of teeth; he adds a bit of tint to the wood to enhance its features and coats it in a nice finish.
Much of his work stays right at home for his family to enjoy, but he has also been asked to craft a few wedding gifts.
“I do this basically for fun,” Stauff said. “Working wood is cathartic, a somewhat ethereal experience.”
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