Cedar grows into garden

It's said art's meaning is in the eye of the beholder, and Tim Wafstet's cedar boxes have taken on a variety of meanings for his customers.

Wafstet, of Sequim, has had requests for bat houses, plaques and keepsake boxes for family members' and pets' cremated remains.

Wafstet said he had seen old Western movies with pine caskets for their dead.

"Here we are only making cedar," Wafstet said with a smile.

Those kinds of requests aren't common for Wafstet but he isn't opposed to special orders that "are within reason."

Wafstet, a retired Qwest data systems worker, moved to

Sequim in 2000 from Mukilteo with his wife, Cindi.

He started his business, The Cedar Box, five years ago. He didn't have much woodworking experience before he retired but he has been working on it steadily since then.

His first project was window boxes for outside his house. Cindi wanted to plant herbs, so he decided to go forward with the project.

Wafstet uses cedar for his projects because of its availability and durability.

"Why do they make shingles out of cedar? Because they last!" he said.

Wafstet's cedar boxes don't use liners. Instead, he drills holes to prevent root rot and he uses galvanized screws and deck stain to prevent rust and splintering.

His window boxes can last 10 to 15 years, he said.

Cedar Box products range in price from $3 cedar cooking planks to $300 hope chests.

He builds hope chests only by request because "they are hard to lug around to shows."

Trellises are the most purchased product Wafstet produces. They can be used in conjunction with a cedar bench and with any variety of vine-type plants.

Wafstet's trellises cost less than those from big chain stores. He said that's because the buyer gets them directly from him.

"No. 1, I don't want gouge anyone and I also want to make sales," he said.

Wafstet often sees his products in the community.

"Over the Fence has my boxes on their roof."

Wafstet originally spoke with the Over the Fence owner about selling his cedar products wholesale.

Instead, he was commissioned to build the boxes for the unique roof display at the 112 E. Washington St. shop just east of Sequim Avenue.

Wafstet sells his products at the

Sequim Open Aire Market. Many people acknowledge his craftsmanship but he also understands that some walk by and use his ideas to make similar items at home.

"That's OK with me," Wafstet said.

In the late summer it's difficult selling garden items so he and Cindi came up with products that are perennial.

His Chinese character plaques have words such as "compassion," "love," "patience" and "tranquility" cut into thin planks with different color schemes.

"I don't recommend them outside because they aren't primed on the back, so it could rot. Most people use it in the house," Wafstet said.

Wafstet also makes solar-panel lanterns. Each lantern has a photoelectric cell that recognizes night and day and turns the light on and off.

"If it is charged all day in good sunlight, then it is good for a few hours," he said.

Solar cells for each lantern are expensive, Wafstet said. He tried to purchase the cells in bulk, but the company wanted him to buy 1,000 to 2,000 units.

"I only wanted 10, 20 or 50 at most, so I bought 20."

Wafstet spends up to three or four hours on cedar projects a day. It all depends on his mood and health, he said.

Wafstet finds his art is a way to relax and heal.

"Cedar does have a very nice smell, but after awhile you get used to it."

Wafstet will have his cedar projects at the Soroptimist Garden Show on March 21-22 at the Boys & Girls Club, 400 W. Fir St., Sequim. He also will be at the Sequim Open Aire Market's spring event on April 4, also at the Boys & Girls Club. In March, he will begin marketing his products to local nurseries. For more information, contact Wafstet at

Reach Matthew Nash at

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