HALLOWELL — Kieran Kammerer works to foster the health and happiness of children in his professional life as a pediatrician.

He’s now found a way to do the same through his woodworking hobby.

In a little less than a year, Kammerer has created about 150 wooden baby rattles in the shop at his Hallowell home, where he also creates bowls and furniture that he sells under the Hallowell Woodworks name.

Kammerer, 53, took up woodworking more than two decades ago. He said he had long looked for a way to connect his hobby to his work as a pediatrician, now with Kennebec Pediatrics in Augusta.

“One of my partners had a grandson,” he said. “I made him a rattle, and it kind of took off from there.”

Kammerer makes the rattles from pale maple and one of three more colorful woods: Black walnut, purpleheart or padauk, which is red.


He starts by gluing together three blocks of wood, the middle of which has two holes cut into it. One or two dried pinto beans go into each of the holes before gluing.

On a recent afternoon, Kammerer had six future rattles drying in clamps. Once the glue is dry, Kammerer turns the resulting blank on a lathe, carving out a dumb-bell shape.

He said his first attempts were of a size better suited for adult hands.

“When I started making them, they looked like they were for Bam Bam,” the Flintstones TV show character, he said. “A kid could probably kill another kid with one.”

He has since scaled down his pattern. When the rattle is turned and sanded, he seals it with beeswax and mineral oil to ensure he keeps his materials as natural and nontoxic as possible.

Many rattle buyers choose to have a child’s name, date of birth, birth weight and city of birth engraved on the delicate bar connecting the two ends of the rattle. Hannah Manufacturing in Augusta does the laser engraving.


Belgrade resident Stephanie Koetzle’s son, Sam, received one of the rattles when he was born in August. He started to grasp the rattle at about 3 months old and really enjoys playing with it, Koetzle said.

“He can grab onto it and shake it, and he knows that the noise is him making it, so it’s really cute to watch him develop,” she said. “It’s a nice toy when he’s on the floor. He can throw it down, pick it back up easily. It’s easy to throw in the diaper bag.”

Sam’s rattle was a gift from Hallowell resident Maria Fuentes, who has also bought them for two other friends’ babies. She plans to buy one for her 10-year-old son, not to play with, but just to have.

“They’re very functional, but at the same time they’re just these exquisite heirlooms,” Fuentes said.

Kammerer markets the rattles as heirlooms and said the hardwoods he uses should hold up well enough to be passed down through families.

Kammerer said he enjoys hearing the stories of the families where the rattles are headed. He’s also learned more about traditions in other countries, such as naming traditions in Iceland, where he shipped a pair of rattles for twins.

Through word-of-mouth and Facebook, Kammerer has made rattles for children in about 20 states, as well as countries including Belgium, Germany and Haiti. “My goal is to get one in every state,” he said.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645


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