Ventura County man creates hidden carpentry workshop in retirement community


Larry Thrasher is doing something that has become something of a lost art. The 79-year-old retiree makes handmade wooden toys. It’s pretty unusual on its own, but what makes it truly unique is where it does it.

Thrasher lives in University Village, a retirement community in Thousand Oaks. We are in his house, a beautiful two bedroom, two bathroom apartment. When you walk in, it looks like a stylish unit, with a lovely kitchen, well-decorated living room, and comfortable bedrooms.

He leads us into one of the bathrooms, which looks normal, until he pulls the shower curtain to reveal what the tub should be. There is a huge custom-built cabinet above the tub, complete with a workbench and a number of power tools like a drill press.

Then it takes us back to what looks like a cupboard near the unit’s front door, and unrolls more tools on a cart. There is more equipment hidden in a closet in the bedroom and a storage cupboard on the balcony.

Thrasher has a hidden carpentry workshop, which is completely invisible unless you know where to look.

He had a full carpentry shop when he and his wife Joy lived in the nearby Santa Rosa Valley. But, when they downsized and moved into the retirement community, he thought his woodworking days were over.

Over a year ago, he lost the love of his life, his wife Joy. With the pandemic that turned him into locked up, he started to think about woodworking.

He knows how to think of things. Thrasher was in the manufacturing business for decades, first in the Midwest and then with a Ventura County swimming pool supply company.

Thrasher has started to design and build his hidden workshop, which includes soundproofing to avoid disturbing neighbors. It is in a unit on the second floor:. he told his neighbors what he was doing and asked them to speak if noise was a problem. he’s been so far, so good after more than six months in action.

Thrasher says he loves making handmade toys for his family. He has three children, 10 grandchildren and says he now makes toys like wooden cars and ducks for the great-grandchildren he hopes to have soon.

(photo KCLU)

Larry Thrasher with some of his handmade toys

Thrasher has become something of a celebrity in the retirement community, with a word among the other residents about his hidden workshop people want to see.

He says that as much as he enjoys making retro-style wooden toys, what he loves even more are children’s faces as they see them for the first time.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.