Dr. Ed Gerson was a youngster in Columbus, Ga., when his dad, who owned rental property, said, “I don’t need to call a plumber because there is nothing I can’t learn on my own.” Later, as a radiology resident in Boston, Gerson accumulated his own tools like a radial arm saw and floor model drill press. “I like to have tools at my own disposal in an onsite workshop, which, by the way, is not neat.”
Gerson’s projects are artistically and technically crafted to showcase the wood’s natural beauty. Trivets, cutting boards, toys and puppet show stages are mostly limited by what he can find on the web.
Jaffe: Does your background as a physician feed your hobby?
Gerson: Heck, no. Most doctors are afraid they will hurt their hands. The truth is I am not very original. I get my ideas from Pinterest or photos. I created a copy of a famous artwork by Damien Hirst to show the ease of duplicating something technical – but silly. Note that I am not a fan of modern art.
Jaffe: What things have you done of a Judaic nature?
Gerson: I was inspired by the wooden ark in Congregation B’nai Torah’s chapel. I was there for a minyan, and “my light bulb went on” about its artistic value. I created an exact replica tzedakah box that currently sits in the chapel as my donation to the congregation. My new passion is tzedakah boxes created from 1900 to 1920 metal dials from post office boxes.
I used a silver Tanach [Bible] cover to create the tzedakah box on display at the Breman [Jewish] Home.
Jaffe: As a grandfather, what are some of your child-oriented projects?
Gerson: I built three, 3-foot by 3-foot wooden flip-toy racetracks. Since two of my grandsons are in New York, I had to dissemble them to get on the plane and reassemble on site. I have a stamp that says: “Made especially for you by ZADIE.”
For our local grandchildren I built (with my creative wife, Robyn) a Noah’s Ark puppet stage from foam board and colored duct tape.
Jaffe: What is your method?
Gerson: I start with very detailed diagrams. Then I select the wood. You can see my rows of walnut, maple, cherry, purple heart and padauk woods. Often there are beautiful surprises under rough wood. Things have to be kept dust- free and I use mineral oil for the cutting boards. I like reclaiming junk used parts into new purposes.
I tailor-made a lively piano cutting board for a musicologist friend.
Jaffe: Are you paid for your work?
Gerson: There is no way I could profit based on the amount of hours in completing a project. I would be in my workshop 24/7 if it was up to me. I do it for relaxation!
Jaffe: What’s next?
Gerson: We have run out of storage space for any more cutting boards. I’m on to decorative and useful objects like cookbook holders and whatever seems like a fun project.