Ada's Les Thede poses with some of his handcrafted clocks at the recent Harvest & Herb Festival - Ada Herald
Ada's Les Thede poses with some of his handcrafted clocks at the recent Harvest & Herb Festival. (Ada Herald/Joe Schriner)

ADA — The old pop rock group Chicago sang….

Does anybody really know what time it is?

Does anybody really care?

Ada’s Les Thede does.

So much so, in fact, that he spends a good deal of time in his woodworking shop out back of his home on Lima Ave making, well, clocks.

But that’s not all he makes. He makes furniture, decorative boxes, and a bunch of other stuff.

Thede, who is a retired ONU electrical engineer professor, is now, in essence, an old-fashion craftsman.

In the current sea of fast-paced, mass-produced modernity, Thede makes his products at a hand-crafted, slow measured pace.

What’s more, his finished products often don’t match the mass produced, high gloss, “unblemished” look of, say, a modern table, dresser, et. Al. His finished products will sometimes have splits, cracks, knot holes, bug holes…

Things that add character to a piece, much the same as how 17th and 18th century craftsmen (“craftspeople,” now) did it.

Thede uses “…local hardwoods (maple, cherry, walnut oak…) harvested within 100 miles of Ada.”


“Because, simply, they’re the best hardwoods in the country, if not the world,” he said.

What’s more, Thede will sometimes use “reclaimed” wood. He used the example of rare American chestnut wood that was first on the side of a barn, then moved to the inside of an office, and it finally made its way to his shop (when the office building was being razed).

He made the wood into decorative boxes.

“That wood actually had three lives,” he smiled.

And woodworking has added to the quality of Thede’s life. Besides the gratification he gets knowing his products are appreciated and will last generations, the craft of woodworking itself, he added, has quite a calming, centering effect on him.

It’s been a win/win.