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Draper Journal

Draper woodworker also has a musical side

Sep 07, 2018 01:25PM ● By Jana Klopsch

LaMar Noorda with three of his handcrafted wooden clocks. (Katherine Weinstein/City Journals)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

When you scratch the surface of any community, you find creative individuals with unique talents. Their work is often unpublicized, but they enrich their communities through their artistic endeavors. LaMar Noorda, a masterful woodworker and musician, is one such individual. 

Noorda, age 86, and his wife, Jeanine, have made their home in Draper since 1975. Literally, he made his own home — creating a unique design with an eye-catching curved roof and building it himself. Noorda worked for many years in the sheet-metal roofing business, but “woodworking was a long-time hobby.” Since retiring, he has pursued his hobby full time and calls his craft business Creative Designs. 

A self-described “clock-a-holic,” Noorda has been making wooden clocks for decades. “I just see a piece of old wood and think, ‘That would make a good clock,’” he said. He buys the clock mechanisms and constructs the body of the clock out of wood. Some are mantle clocks with round faces. Many of his clocks are composed of geometric patterns of various types and colors of wood configured into different shapes. “I have a method of making clocks where I interlay pieces of wood and glue them down,” he said. 

Noorda makes many other items out of carefully designed inlaid wood, including trivets, cheese boards and bread boards, which are his most popular items at craft fairs. He has made chess boards and other gaming boards as well. Many types of wood such as mahogany, ash, oak, mesquite and manzanita go in to Noorda’s decorative boards. 

In Noorda’s hands, rough-cut slabs of wood cut from unwanted trees are given new life as coffee tables and stands. Each is as unique as the tree it came from. Noorda’s nephew, who cuts down trees for a living, sends slabs of wood to his uncle. First, the slabs of wood are put through a drum sander until they are very smooth. Noorda then pours plastic over them to seal the wood and give it a high-gloss finish. These become table tops. 

Noorda exhibits and sells his work at craft fairs and festivals around the state including the Draper Arts and Crafts Festival each spring. In the past he has attended the Christmas in July Craft Faire in Brian Head. His next show will be in Parowan on the Friday after Thanksgiving. 

Jeanine, a retired registered nurse, is very supportive of her husband’s work. “He’s always working — he loves to do it. It’s his nature,” she said. She also enjoys her husband’s organ-playing and said, “He plays the most beautiful music by ear.”

When Noorda took piano lessons as a child in Salt Lake City, he learned to play by ear before he could read music. Noorda’s mother signed all of her children up for lessons, but only he was able to play a song after hearing the teacher play it just once. Inspired by Lawrence Welk, Noorda later switched from playing piano to Hammond organ and picked up the accordion as well. 

About 10 years ago, Noorda started giving organ concerts. “I’d put the organ on a truck and go to rest homes,” he said. He has also played for church groups. His last concert was a Christmas show for his ward. Noorda’s repertoire includes sacred music as well as old favorites like “Danny Boy” and “You Are My Sunshine.” 

In his many creative projects, Noorda is largely self-taught. He confided, “I always had a feeling that it would be good for men to learn a trade and work at it.” Noorda has no plans to stop woodworking or playing music any time soon and continues to enjoy both in addition to spending time with his family. To purchase one of Noorda’s clocks, tables or other pieces, you may reach him at his home at 801-523-3674.