By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – A local man with a passion for wood art and its potential to fascinate people manufactures puzzles, jewelry boxes, décor, and more from his Yukon studio.
Michael Hintze moved to Yukon with his wife Jan Hintze in 2005 when she became the pastor of Chisholm Trail Presbyterian Church. Although he has been crafting wood pieces since the 1970s, he opened Hintze4Wood in 2010.
Hintze spends most of his time with his wood projects in his studio garage at home. He is semi-retired as a high-profile detailer for commercial jets and expensive sports vehicles.
Far from the standard oak, pine, and cedar, Hintze is known by his customers for his affinity to craft pieces from exotic woods
“Purple heart, red heart,” he says as he places them on the work table. “This one, spalted maple has lines through it from a virus and you can imagine how hard it is to find and how expensive it is,” he said. “This is coco bolo and it’s $109 a board foot.”
Squares of wood are stacked throughout the work studio, with names few would know. Zebra wood, Brazilian cherry, wedge wood, and the list goes on and on. He mixes wood stock to create contrasting colors and patterns in the three-dimensional art pieces that show more depth and contrast.
Most of his wood comes from Wood Craft in Oklahoma City, but there are bits and pieces that are found only by luck.
“This wood came from a barn in Texas that predates the Civil War,” he said, pointing to a stack of painted boards.
Hintze uses scroll saws, band saws, table saws, and sanders. He crafts large to small puzzles, most of them with chunky pieces that fit together as a stand-alone object, on a fixed stand, or flat inside a wooden frame. His collection spans simple, small keychains to large and elaborate projects like the map of the United States inside a box.
“Each state fits together as a puzzle and each state is a jewelry box,” he explained.
The more elaborate the project, the higher the price tag. Some pieces are priced a couple of thousand dollars, like the map at $3,200 but can be as inexpensive as the keychains for $15 to $20.
“I have a lot of things under $100, most usually between $50 to $75,” he said. “The big priced items, those will sell at juried shows because that’s where people go who appreciate them.”
The wood itself has the most appeal for Hintze.
“It’s what you can do with it,” he said. “You can do anything with it. I’ve made pieces so thin, like a sea shell that if you drop it, it will shatter like glass.”
As much joy as the artform provides, it also demands as much work and time from its masters. Hintze held up a wooden picture that was crafted by cuts and drilled holes to depict Noah’s Ark.
“That’s 1,000 holes and two days of work. It (wood art) takes time and a lot of practice. Forget TV, bars, and sometimes I forget my wife,” he joked.
Hintze said the trends also make some demand on his work. He recalled that owls were a big trend and he sold a jewelry box made in the shape of an owl.
“I’m working on Hippopotamuses,” he said. “Everybody tells me that’s the new thing so I’m trying that out.”
Much of his design comes from nature, most heavily his collection comes from animals, but toys have also been a favorite direction.
“I still do toys,” he said. “I’m thinking about getting back into cars.”
While he sells readily available pieces out of his studio garage and at shows, he also has clients who come to him with a design request and he completes the order.
He has a large dinosaur on display at the Mabel C. Fry Library and he has images of his work on Instagram and Facebook, but his work is not available in retail stores.