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'It's like a cooking show'

George Vondriska and the camera crew he works with prepare to film a segment of a woodworking how-to video Jan. 31. Vondriska has been filming woodworking videos since 2007, but this is the first video he has filmed in his new business location in Hammond.1 / 2
George Vondriska leans on a cabinet between filming different segments of his first woodworking video in his new Hammond location.2 / 2

George Vondriska has moved his business to Hammond, but he doesn't sell your average products. In fact, right now, the business doesn't sell anything.

Vondriska, a Hammond resident, has been working with the Woodworkers Guild of America to create woodworking instructional DVDs since 2007. He said his new business location (next to the Holiday Station Store on Davis Street) will primarily be used for filming woodworking DVDs, and doing the necessary preparation work for the DVDs. Vondriska said he makes several versions of the final product, in various states of completion, before the video crew arrives.

"It's like a cooking show," Vondriska said. "Part of my goal is never to make the crew wait for me."

Past experience working for woodworking magazines has given Vondriska the skills he uses to create woodworking videos, he said.

"That taught me to produce a story," Vondriska said. "When we were shooting still photos, that taught me about making props and being prepared."

Vondriska has also spent time teaching woodworking. He said he often asks woodworking students what they would like to learn about, in order to get ideas for woodworking videos.

Vondriska said he has made about 70 woodworking videos so far. He also produces and manages content for the Woodworkers Guild of America's website

Vondriska said woodworking requires problem-solving and artistic skills.

"The ability to... convert raw materials into something cool, some cool finished item is pretty neat," Vondriska said.

Vondriska also hosts a once-a-year large event called "Build a Better Guitar" with the Milwaukee-based organization Guitars for Vets. The organization aims to give veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder an acoustic guitar and 10 guitar lessons for free.

At the "Build a Better Guitar" event, volunteers assemble acoustic guitars using special guitar kits.

Vondriska held his first "Build a Better Guitar" event in 2009. He has been teaching himself to play guitar since 2006. He said the Guitars for Vets tagline "the healing power of music in the hands of heroes" really struck home for him.

"If I don't play my guitar on a regular basis, I miss it," Vondriska said.

Some veterans have come up to Vondriska and told him how being in the program has improved their post-traumatic stress disorder.

"That's a pretty compelling reason to keep going with it," Vondriska said. He said he hopes to hold the event in the autumn of 2013.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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