A love of woodworking

story and photos by Anthony Byrnes

Mark Hillemann has a passion for woodworking, and his shop is a reflection of that love.

Wood lines every wall in the 40-foot by 80-foot shop at the Hillemann home in Maumelle. Several half finished projects are scattered here and there throughout the metal building.

Mark Hillemann wears protective gear as he turns a table leg with his wood lathe.

Sitting on the back porch of his home overlooking a 60-acre backyard, Mark recently recounted his life story for 501 LIFE. It became evident that woodworking is not Mark’s only passion in life.

Born in October 1948, in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Mark is exactly one day younger than his wife Sharon. To make the story more interesting, Mark and Sharon were born in the same hospital and even lived six blocks apart. They grew up together, but it wasn’t until their sophomore year of high school that Mark finally summoned enough courage to ask Sharon on a date. He approached her while she was selling popcorn during a basketball game. From there the rest is history.

Retiring from the railroad in 2008, Mark shares his life with his beautiful wife, three kids and five grandkids. With more free time on his hands, Mark loves to spend his time with his family and enjoying woodworking.

Mark first built his shop upon moving to Maumelle in 1992 as a place for his family to live and work. In 2003, the family moved out of the metal building and into a house, and the living area of the building was converted into what is now Mark’s woodworking shop.  

“I’ve always been into tinkering with cars, and I guess it was about 1974 when I became interested in woodworking,” Mark said.  

As the years passed, Mark has acquired quite a collection of wood and machinery that makes his hobby possible. From a wood lathe, which gives him the capability to turn legs or post, to a planer allowing him to convert a bad piece of wood to something usable, the possibilities of what Mark can do are endless.

“If I can see it in a magazine or in a store I can pretty much build it, usually adding improvements to make it better,” he said.

With a particular liking to oak, Mark has filled the Hillemann house with beautiful, custom-made hutches, coffee tables, end tables, coat racks and other various pieces of furniture.

“I mainly just build things for my friends and family,” Mark said. With it being a love and a hobby, Mark isn’t necessarily looking to make money off his furniture – it’s more about the ability to create and experiment that keeps Mark going.  

With a roll top desk, book shelves and several table tops in the woodworking shop, it is evident that Mark still has several projects that will keep him busy for years to come.