If it weren’t for his average build and perfectly normal ears, one might mistake Joe Orbeck for one of Santa’s elves as he tools around making wooden toys in his home workshop in Gold River. With the smell of sawdust lingering in the air, he adds a handcrafted plane to a table filled with brightly painted toys: tugboats that come apart into puzzle pieces, trucks and hot rods painted with flames and sitting lined up as if wanting to race. Orbeck, 66, is the incoming vice president of the Sacramento Area Woodworkers (SAW). He has made more than 80 toys throughout the year. In total, SAW members will donate 1,500 woodcrafted toys to the Salvation Army’s toy drive. The toys will be among those given away to needy Sacramento families at the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas distribution of toys and food boxes at Cal Expo on Dec. 23. “It’s a little bit of self-actualization,” says Orbeck, showing off one of his works. “Taking a piece of wood and coming up with this.”
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