Donaldsonville's Wilson Waguespack’s love of wood crafting has spanned more than 70 years.
A self-taught woodcrafter, the 93-year-old Waguespack has made large and small projects for residents of Ascension Parish for years.
Waguespack, who has been married to Margie for 66 years, has four daughters, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
An Army veteran, Waguespack was 19 when he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, during World War II. He served in Company B’s 52nd Signal Battalion as a sergeant.
“Our unit was the staging area for communicating with the front line,” he said. “I could have been promoted, but I was ready to return home.”
Waguespack then worked for a building supply company.
“I worked in sales and I’d look at a project’s blueprints and could figure out how much wood they needed to buy for the project,” he said.
“I started working with wood and I just piddled with things,” he said. “I’d see something in a woodworking magazine I liked, and I wanted to create it. I enjoyed taking a rough piece of wood and making something useful of it.”
Waguespack, who built five houses with the help of his brothers, designs and builds projects in his backyard wood shop.
Some of the items Waguespack builds include wooden rocking chairs, porch swings, coffee tables and bookshelves.
Waguespack’s wood-building process begins with a 10-inch by 10-foot piece of Louisiana Cypress wood bought from various area sawmills. He first runs the wood through a machine to smooth the piece out. Then he uses a band saw to shape the wood into the project’s design. Finally, he flattens the wood one more time on a sanding machine.
Margie Waguespack said Wilson’s hobby gives him a sense of accomplishment.
“He’s achieving something nice and useful,” she said. “People enjoy what he builds, and he likes to hear that.”
Granddaughter Emily Ward said Wilson Waguespack donates a lot of his wooden projects, like swings and rocking chairs, to St. Jules Catholic Church’s annual fairs.
“If you drive into Donaldsonville, his orders are on residents’ porches,” she said.
Wilson Waguespack focuses on groups of certain projects at one time such as wooden trains, watches, picture frames and vegetable baskets adorned with fleur-de-lis designs.
Waguespack, who estimates he builds about a dozen large projects a year, has also built two wooden stands for his second hobby — beekeeping.
Each container features different levels for the beehives including the bottom board, the supers, the frames and the covers. Each super holds frames inside that the bees build wax on. The supers hold the frames where the bees store their honey.
Margie Waguespack said the beekeeping can be dangerous, like the time Wilson’s bee helmet and veil had a hole in it. Wilson was stung 48 times.
Waguespack also spends his time tending his garden on 2 acres of land. He’s planted various vegetables including Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, carrots and turnips.
While Waguespack does not have a set daily schedule for all his woodworking, beekeeping and gardening, one thing is consistent — his breakfast at McDonalds visiting with friends.
“I start my day off with a breakfast burrito, and then I work on what I feel like working on,” he said.