Shawnee Mission Faces: Logan Wagler, birdhouse maker and proud Hutchinson Salt Hawk

Logan WaglerHe was always into art and woodworking, but only as a side thing. Logan Wagler is deputy director of Lenexa parks and recreation, but he also makes birdhouses. Very specific kinds of birdhouses: General stores, post office, police stations and jailhouses, outhouses, barbershops, tackle shops. Born and raised in 1970s Hutchinson, Wagler learned that his hometown sits on a large rock salt deposit, inspiring the high school mascot, the Salt Hawk. Inspired by his hometown history, Wagler named his business Salty Bird Wood Works.

I grew up with a lot of interest around art and certainly with woodworking. I was the kid that, my electives in high school were a lot of times PE, but I always had an art class in there. And I even had a couple of years where I had wood shop two times a day.

I love working with my hands. I love creating. In fact, I did so much of it that my parents said, you gotta stop, we can’t keep paying money for you to get to do wood projects at school.

My mother was very creative. She did a lot of glass work, a lot of different art, dough art things. I think it was always inspirational to me. Somewhere along the line she gave me an art set, and I got into painting: acrylics, watercolors, those kinds of things, but again, never lost that love for woodworking.

It’s kind of my own little getaway to be creative, to do things on my own. And that’s what I love most about birdhouses is the possibilities are endless. I have more ideas than I’m ever going to be able to actually build and make sure they come all the way out and be complete at some point.

It’s a combination of woodworking and using recycled materials and paint to build something kind of fun and different. I don’t just do birdhouses; I do funky kind of folk art or grassroots type of art where it’s just really organic. I love seeing something and thinking how would that look, like that would make a neat chimney or that would make a neat doorway or that would make a neat accent piece for a birdhouse.

A lot of the materials that I use for birdhouses are recycled materials that I’ve reclaimed through old barns, old structures, old houses that were going to be torn down. I love taking something old and giving it new life somehow. I’ve done that with furniture; I do a lot with the different things that I build and, in particular, birdhouses.

I’ve probably built 60 birdhouses, sold probably 40 to 50, including a lot of custom ones. I don’t mass produce anything that I build. Everything is pretty much one of a kind.

I probably have 50 other bird houses that I’ve been wanting to build. I always have like 10 birdhouses in the works that are halfway done that I’m just trying to find the time to get back to them, to complete them.

I honestly don’t know how it started. I built a couple thinking I had an idea in my head that sounded really like a lot of fun, something I saw or something I recycled, and I thought that would be cool to put that on a birdhouse. I saw the creativity side of it and just started doing more.

What I’ve done is promised myself that this is never a business venture for me. This is purely out of something I enjoy doing and I figured it’s only going to be enjoyable as long as I’m not trying to make money on it. Most of this has just given me an outlet to express myself and have a lot of fun in creating something that hopefully will have meaning and get a lot of use out of for somebody out there.