SALINA, Kan. (KSNW) — The chatter, the belly laughs, and the constant sound of wood chipping; those are the sights and sounds one can only witness on the second floor of the Salina Senior Center. That’s where the Woodcarvers Group, a group dating back more than a decade, meets every Friday morning.

“I have been doing it for about 30 some years,” said Jack Cole.

Cole, 88, started carving in his neighbor’s shop in the 1990s. When he moved to Salina from Hutchinson, he realized something was missing.

“There was no place here for people to carve, and so I got to talking with the people here (Salina Senior Center) to give us a room to do this, and it took three months for them to decide whether they wanted us to do this or not. Then, it really got started,” said Cole.

It started with a few people, but word-of-mouth spread, and eventually, the woodcarving club grew to a couple of dozen members, some with experience, some without.

“It’s fun to pick up a piece of wood and kind of look at it and try to figure out what’s in that wood, and you carve it until you find it,” said Steve Cassel, 74, who has been with the group for about four years. “If you have a nice piece of wood and a sharp knife, the whole crazy world goes away. You can lose all your problems and lose the world’s problems.”

The creations are just a piece of what makes the club special. For many, the members have become their dear friends. Some consider each other family.

A piece carved by the Salina Woodworking Club

“The people here are great. We swap stories,” Cassel said.

“Oh, this is fun! We hear all kinds of stories in here. These guys just crack me up. They get to talking. Then, the two ladies behind me, they have been here for a little while,” said another woodcarving member.

“They keep coming back because it is a hobby that they have, and they want to do good, and that’s why they keep coming back. Really, it’s a socializing time too. It really is, and they have a lot of fun,” Cole said.

The Woodcarving Group meets each Friday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Salina Senior Center. It is free to join and open to anyone regardless of age. The group does ask individuals to bring their own wood and tools.