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John Shepard works to create his handmade toys for the holidays. (Christina Estes/KTAR)

John Shepard loves his old school version of Santa's workshop.

"It smells good, it feels good."

"It" is wood, specifically pine. That's what Shepard uses inside his Gilbert workshop to create rocking horses, giraffes, bears and more. His toys don't talk and you can't press a button to make a noise, but it's the simplicity that makes them so special.

"That gives you time for your imagination to make bells and whistles and do things, doesn't it?" he said. "The kids actually really enjoy that. They enjoy the stimulation of their imagination."

Shepard's love for woodworking began as a child. While many fathers and sons play ball together, Shepard and his dad make rocking horses.

"There's a comfort in a wooden toy that you don't in a plastic toy."

Shepard makes rocking horses, tables and chairs, and push and pull toys starting at $15.

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