Los Altos resident's woodworking gifts show appreciation

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
In his retirement, Harold Stenfort enjoys woodworking and gifting his creations to those he appreciates.

Harold Stenfort walked into the Town Crier’s office – a second-floor workspace shared by advertising, circulation, editorial and production teams shouting information over cubicle walls and spreading laughter above the music playing through the floorboards from Morsey’s Farmhouse below – and placed an oven-rack puller at the reception desk.

Stenfort didn’t have any questions or need help investigating an old issue of the paper; he simply wanted to show his appreciation to the paper’s staff in the best way he knows how: with a handmade gift from his years of woodworking.

“It’s a nice local paper, extremely economical,” Stenfort said over the phone a few days later. “I give oven pullers and some other things to people who do things I enjoy. I give them to (the people) behind the counter at the post office, to tellers at the bank, nurses and doctors. I give them to people who don’t get any appreciation for their work.”

Following his retirement – Stenfort estimates that to be six or seven years ago (“maybe a little longer”) – he capitalized on a hobby he had always enjoyed and began to fashion wood pieces both small and large in his free time. He made furniture for all of his kids; one daughter-in-law specifically likes mahogany furniture, so he said he finds old pieces for her and restores them “to make them look nice.”

When he has no orders from the family, Stenfort makes oven-rack pullers.

“I really don’t sell anything,” he said. “I give my pullers to the fair (sponsored) by Peninsula Bible Church in Cupertino. They fundraise for a village in Liberia that needs major support; people there make a dollar and a half a day. Everything of mine they sell goes into (the fundraiser). They help build buildings and put in wells.”

Stenfort also makes three- or four-piece nativity sets and hot pads so that pans, he said, “don’t damage the surface of your counter or anything.” He likes to make simple things, things that are easy – he considers candlestick holders of various sizes and shapes easy as well.

Stenfort has lived in Los Altos for 45 years, and certainly things have changed since he arrived in town and held down jobs like air-conditioning contractor.

“It’s a nice little community, but there aren’t that many jobs, really,” he said.

On the phone, Stenfort promised to visit the Town Crier again with more pieces from his inventory. He lives close to downtown, so he walked in, again placing gifts at reception.

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