Teaching lessons that WOW: Shertzer still learning ag trade


Mike Shertzer may no longer be in the classroom, but that hasn’t stopped him from being a teacher.

At a recent Thursday Bowling Green Kiwanis Club meeting, Shertzer, who is president, shared tidbits about the Golden Ratio and how he uses it when working with wood.

His WOW moments – Words of a Woodworker – include two or three minutes at each meeting to discuss something about woodworking.

As explained by Shertzer, everything in nature grows at the rate of the Golden Ratio. All the proportions that are seen are by that ratio, so we become subconsciously used to seeing that proportion.

Examples can be seen in snail shells, flower petals and pinecones.

“If you make stuff to that proportion, it looks pleasing,” Shertzer said.

He uses the Golden Ratio when creating his wooden pieces, whether a table or box.

Shertzer started his woodshop around 2000, when he and his wife Mary Lou became empty nesters.

“I’ve always had a shop, but once the kids got out and I had time, I developed it further,” he said.

Now, the walls are covered with old handheld tools and the floor space is taken up by a drill press, wood lathe, sander, band saw and scroll saw.

“I have a love for old tools,” Shertzer said.

“I’ve got more tools than Grainger,” he said, referring to an industry supplier.

He did woodworking in 4-H and FFA and figured he’s been doing it for 65 years.

Shertzer is from Fremont and came to Bowling Green as the vo-ag educator at the high school. He kept that job from 1971 until he retired in 2012.

“I enjoyed what I taught, the subject material, and I enjoyed the kids.”

Every discipline students learned in school, he could show them how to use it in wood shop. They had to know algebra and geometry to measure their projects.

The biology and chemistry applied to the finishes and English was worked in with reading plans.

“Everything that was taught in high school, I could take them into the wood shop and show them how to apply it,” Shertzer said. “A lot of lightbulbs went off in their heads.”

He said he loves teaching, which is why he has added the lessons for Kiwanians.

“I’ll teach anything.”

Shertzer had his three children, John, Jim and Stephanie, in the ag program at BGHS.

Stephanie has taken over as the ag teacher.

“I retired and she moved in,” he said.

He still pays the shop a visit and said it’s nice to be able to walk in then walk out.

“I consider myself in some cases a wood butcher. I’m not nearly as good as the woodworkers in our woodworkers guild. Everyone’s got their own level,” Shertzer said.

He made wooden toys with Kiwanis in December to distribute as Christmas presents and makes toys every year with the Woodworkers Guild, which Shertzerstarted in 2002.

They made 165 toys this past year and gave them to four different charities.

“I don’t make anything for myself. Everything I make is usually for someone else,” he said.

Shertzer will make something for you — if he likes you.

“I don’t do it to make money and I don’t do it for just anybody,” he said. “I’ve got so many projects I’ll never get them done.”

He gives away his work as gifts or to charity auctions and said he couldn’t charge enough to make it worth his time.

Shertzer usually uses domestic hardwoods like oak, walnut and maple, but has branched out and used exotics such as zebra wood, paduak and Bubinga for the grain and color.

“I like the challenge of making something I’ve never made before.”

He has a selection of unity crosses and matches the personality of the wood to the individuals.

He never gets bored with it and admitted he’ll never learn it all.

“I learn something new every day,” Shertzer said. “t’s always challenging, it’s never boring.”

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