ZECHARIAH MATTHEWS is a man of many talents
New Castle’s Zechariah Matthews has the world in his hands. The skilled woodworker, model rocket builder, and World War II buff has already embarked on a professional career path and honed his natural talents, all by the age of 14.
The precocious teen has been a member of 4-H in Garfield County for six years, and is almost entirely self-taught. Matthews found that he had a gift for working with his hands at an early age, and his talents allowed him to assemble an impressive amount of tools in his woodshed. Through hard work, he earned enough money to purchase the tools he needed, and the shed itself, which alone cost $2,300, to realize his dream.
Skillfully crafted bowls, rolling pins, and even a smooth wooden goblet adorn the sawdust-blanketed shed. His first 4-H projects included a trinket box, foot stool and a gun rack, and his catalogue has expanded since. Matthews is currently building a table for the 4-H woodworking competition at the Garfield County Fair and Rodeo, which takes place July 31 to Aug. 6.
He utilized multi-colored cuts of wood for the legs, and a wooden slab, with a raw, bark-lined void in the middle, for the table top. A river of glass flows between the two pieces of the slab, a donation to his project from Aspen Custom Glass and Showers.
“Woodworking is what I want to be my profession,” Matthews said. “I like to use different woods, and different patterns. I figured it would be an interesting, one-of-a-kind piece.”
But his skill set doesn’t stop there. Matthews is also involved in rocketry, leadership, and even breeding market quail — following his sister’s lead — in 4-H. His love for building has also led to a woodworking club that includes a few of his peers in the area. Matthews created the club to impart his knowledge and help others flourish. The members sold some of their products at a recent rabbit show.
Teaching helps him with leadership in 4-H. Matthews has also taught preschoolers how to construct wooden toy cars at Children’s Mini-College on the Colorado Mountain College campus, and helped kids build wooden boats at the New Castle Community Center.
“They had pieces of gutter (with water inside), and they could race their boats in those,” he explained.
His woodworking skills have caught on far and wide, and he’s receiving orders for his wares, such as bookends, book shelves, cutting boards and custom bowls. A new website, “Z’s Woodworking,” is in the works.
“It’s almost done,” he said.
Matthews’ rocketry skills have also taken off in recent years, having won overall county grand champion, and two reserve overall honors. At state, he’s won reserve champion in his age group. He explained that the goal in rocketry is to navigate the rocket to land as close to the launch site as possible. He crafted a plastic streamer to burst forth from his rockets, rather than a parachute, to improve accuracy.
“Yeah, I have a lot going on,” Matthews said with a smile. “It’s fun.”