INTERLOCHEN — Carol Winkler operates a cutting edge business.
Winkler uses a scroll saw in the garage of her family’s Benzie County home to make cutting boards shaped like the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The boards are made from one-inch-thick cherrywood and retail in at least five different stores and wineries in the Grand Traverse region.
“At this point it’s a hobby business,” Winkler said. “I also work part-time, but if I had my druthers I’d stay home and do it full time. I love it. I put my heart and soul into it. The wood speaks to me. Look at it! I love it.”
Winkler’s idea for her Cwinkink enterprise arose from the pursuit of a wedding gift. She bought a Michigan-shaped cutting board more than a decade ago, then looked to purchase another one in 2007 for her daughter’s wedding.
“I couldn’t find one anywhere,” Winkler said. “I kept asking for a cutting board made in the shape of Michigan and no one had ever heard of it. I said, ‘It can’t be too hard. I’ll make one myself.’ So I did.”
Winkler experimented and learned cherrywood is the best material for the job. She traces her Lower Peninsula template onto wood slabs purchased from Rare Earth Hardwoods, then cuts the board with her scroll saw. She burns her name and logo into every board, the edges are sanded, and the wood is coated with butcher’s block conditioner. Drying takes a day, then the cutting board receives some ornamental decoration and it’s ready for sale.
Winkler said it’s trickier to make a Lower Peninsula cutting board with its coastal nuances than, say, Colorado.
“The only tricky part is Old Mission Peninsula,” she said. “You have to be real careful when you go around there. You don’t want to cut it off.”
She made one Upper Peninsula cutting board and that was enough, given all the ins and outs of the U.P. coastline.
“I’ll never do it again,” she said. “It’s so intricate it’s absolutely horrible. I broke a lot of saw blades.”