Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Accidents

The Water Gap Woodturners met On October 7th in the Peters Valley woodshop. The prior month's demo had been provided by Steven Antonucci, who had turned a long stem goblet from the world's worst piece of punky maple. The meeting went immediately into redemption, as Steve showed another long stem goblet he turned the following day without snapping the head off of it!

During the Show and Tell, the meeting attendees began discussing "pricing work" and how some pieces might be affected by the market they were exhibited. While it was not a planned discussion, the topic did take on a life of it's own and carry throughout the meeting. People carried on for almost an hour trying to find the magic formula of inches x species x time spend and in the end, I think we agreed that there was no such formula that fit every situation.

Our presentation for the night was lead by Dan Moore, who had planned on turning a burl cap, but prior topics continued to come into play instead. Dan brought his crates filled with burls and such, and the topic became more focused around "what would you do with this piece" and "how much should someone charge for this type of object?" Dan admitted that he somehow felt like he had cheated us out of actually turning one, but in the end, I believe that it was our best meeting ever.

Next up on deck, we are looking for someone to volunteer for November's meeting before I have to nominate you...

Safe spinning.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why Is Everyone Standing Around?

On Wednesday, July 1, that was the question? The Water Gap Woodturners welcomed back Peter Galbert, as our guest presenter for the evening. The meeting was attended by our usual quorum of 12 or so members, as many folks had scheduled vacations for the long holiday weekend. Steve Butler was sidelined with a bad case of Lyme's, reminding us all to check for ticks after you get back home. We wish for his speedy recovery.

The business portion of the meeting was quick with one major announcement. Wil invited members to a "cutting party" in Hamburg, NJ on Friday AM and several of us went there to load our trucks with free cherry, cedar and mulberry. There were lots of prizes that we hope to see at future show and tells.

The Show and Tell had some very interesting work from the membership, and unfortunately, some pretty poor photography to go with it. There were Wil's natural edge pieces, and some pyrography pieces by Tony. Ed brought a hollow vessel that had been made in two pieces, and defied anyone to find a glue line. There was also a Longworth chuck which was made by a member who's name I can't recall (note, will edit it in when someone tells me!) Keep bringing your work to the meetings- as you can see, it's great for getting ideas and giving them too!

Our main topic for the night was Peter Galbert, a well know chair maker from NY State. Peter began his presentation by talking a little bit about the history of the Windsor and what attracted him to making them. Much of the work is done without the use of electrons with very simple hand tools. Peter opened up his tool box to show us some tapered reamers and "tools of the trade".

The presentation went from being somewhat theoretical to practical pretty quickly. Peter's got about 200 chairs to his credit, so he's worked out a bunch of the kinks and how-to's to be able to figure out how to get things done.

One of the things that needs to be done on every chair is you need to turn 4 legs. I suppose that's a good thing when you are talking to a woodturning group, since it peaks everyone's interest to watch the shavings fly!

Peter spent some time discussing layouts and his methods for "getting it right". When you need 4 legs to looks basically the same, it's important to do the same things well over and over, so Peter always works with the same process doing the steps in the same order. It's very interesting to watch a spindle turner who has probably worked on 800 of the "same parts" to see how effiiciently they work, and before we knew it, Peter has made a pretty sweet leg from a billet of maple.

From there, we shifted gears to assembling a complex arm without measuring and without any complex math. It looked like smke and mirrors, and if you were present, you know that's at least half true :-)

Peter's method for assembly was largely based upon his experience in 200+ chairs and knowing how they fit together. His use of tapered tenons and stepped tenons is very simple to comprehend, and he made it look very easy to replicate. If you've ever tried building something, you know that the truth is it's somewhere between voodoo and a Rubik's Cube, with a touch of juggling thrown in to boot! The arm assembly demonstration was very interesting to watch how each operation dictated the layout for the next operation. In about 30 minutes, Peter had mocked up the entire arm assembly used in his rocking chair below.

In the end, Peter displayed a couple of the techniques he uses in his workshops on building a Windsor chair. The techniques, like so many other things in woodturning, were shared openly and freely with the membership. It is probably our greatest resource- knowledge, and the willingness to share it- that keeps woodturning moving forward at the
breakneck pace it is!

Until the next time, keep the pointy side of the gouge in the wood and the round part in your hands...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Better Late than Never

Sorry for the delay in posting, but with the May meeting being canceled and June already 2 weeks back, I guess it's kind of important to get back in the habit.

The June meeting was attended at the Peters Valley woodshop by about a dozen WGW members (before monsoon season...but I digress). There was an announcement that PV scholarships are still available to anyone wanting to take advantage of the discount, and lots of great sessions are still available. Show and Tell was brief, and unfortunately, I forgot my camera. About half of the members in attendance brought something for the S&T, which means we just need to get the other half going now...

The topic for the day was a methods of work talk by Harvey Fein. Harvey is well known in the woodturning world for his router wizardry and machine work. Harevy brought some of his gadgets that he designed and showed us all how they interact with the lathe and create a variety of patterns in the platters he is known for.

Harvey's work is exceptionally detailed, and he shared his methods openly. I would dare say that he is one of a kind, and it would be difficult if not impossible to produce the work he does, even if he was to lend you his shop and tell you how! Harvey is a one-off original... and the Water Gap Woodturners appreciate his participation in our program.

Next meeting is July 1 if I read my calendar right. There will be a reminder for folks to BRING SOMETHING TO THE SHOW AND TELL! The group only gets stronger if we all particpate. Our guest lecturer will be Peter Galbert, who is a chairmaker and a spindle turner by default. Peter presented his new caliper last year, and I am told he will be offering to club members for purchase at the meeting again in July.

See you in July.

(Apologies for the substandard photography, but it was 1MP cell phone or nothing...)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Oh, Chef of the future-can it core a bowl?

The Water Gap Woodturners met on April 1 at the Peters Valley woodshop. Business was quickly covered and there was a mention of working in the Man Tent at the NJ state fair, formerly know as the Sussex County Fair for those of us locals. We will be informed about the requirements for this event at a future meeting.

From the business meeting, we dove into the Show and Tell. Unfortunately, no one took any pictures of the items, so you'll have to recall the 2500 piece segmented chinese ball from memory. How it was every turned on 512 axises is beyond me, especially since it was done on a foot powered treadle lathe using tools made from old Altoid tins.

April Fools. (The Altoid tins were new.)

The main topic for the evening was coring bowls to preserve wood and make more than one bowl per blank. Members got to try out the McNaughton system an the Steussy BowlSaw. There was an ornery block of dry cherry that refused to be cored, and a few tense moments when the big Oneway wouldn't power up, but eventually, the chips started flying. Steven Antonucci demonstrated the McNaughton, and then encouraged others to try it for themselves. Maurice Cohen from the NJ Woodturners was one of the intrepid souls who found out that coring isn't very difficult with a little bit of knowledge.

Also demonstrated was the BowlSaw from Richard Steussy. Dick sent the Water Gap Woodturners both the small and large version for us to review at no cost. While not as versatile as the McNaughton, it sells about 1/8th the cost of the McNaughton and has almost no learning curve. You can contact Dick at for more info.

Overall, we had 3-4 members core 3-4 bowl blanks and see two systems in action. At the end of the meeting, the clean-up was contained to one small shovelful of shavings because of the use of the coring systems. If you are a bowl turner and want to up your production while decreasing the waste, coring is an excellent way to achieve both goals.

Our next meeting date is in early May, and the topic is TOP SECRET. It will be announced in the next blog entry after all of the details have been planned out, but I can assure you that if you only go to one meeting this year, make it the May meeting. It will be a once in a lifetime event...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

April 1 Meeting- not a Joke!

With the April meeting coming in a couple of weeks, I wanted to send out a reminder that the topic will be using bowl coring tools. We will have a Kelton coring unit and two of the Steussy Bowlsaws available for club members to try out. If any other members own coring tools and would like to bring them to the meeting, please contact me at .

In addition, in the interest of making the meeting more "hands on", it would also be beneficial if members brought some wood to turn and core. With access to enough "stock", we should be able to have everyone cut a core to create a nested set of bowls to take home and finish turn at their leisure! Please remember that the Oneway 1224's can turn up to 12" and your home lathe will need to accomodate the cores at some later point (mini lathe owners)!

If nobody brings wood, it will be a short meeting. Coring a bowl takes about 2 minutes. Please remember to BYOW!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 7th Dennis Fuge Empties his Pockets

Dennis Fuge joined the Water Gap Woodturners today to deliver a two part all day demo in celebration of the WGW's 1st anniversary. The meeting was well attended, drawing nearly the entire membership in a tremendous show of growth from 12 months ago.

Club business was quickly contained to the first minutes of the meeting to allow Dennis to deliver the first part of the program: From Road Kill to Lathe. Dennis discussed the breadth of his life experience before settling into NJ, which he described as "hardwood heaven". We went through a very interesting exercise in identifying local hardwoods. Dennis asked how many of the 14 common NJ trees could we identify on the bench, and as a group we got 13 of them with little trouble. Pear was the "prickly" one (groan, yes that was a pun...)

The main program was about decorative techniques for platters, however, many of Dennis' demonstrated techniques could be applied to any woodturning. Dennis credited the influences in his work from his teacher, as he has now become the teacher. As Dennis pointed out, we take a lifetime to "fill our pockets" with the techniques that make our work our own. From the looks of Dennis' pockets, I'd say he should be wearing some pretty big pants.

Dennis started with the basics of roughing out and drying platters, however the main focus was on surface enhancement. He laid out the concept of a Saturn platter, and the various layers that would be added. Some of the techniques covered were poured pewter inserts, carving, burning, ostrich skin texture (Note for Dennis: one of my three!), eggshell, gesso, and a few more to that I have probably forgotten! For the next four hours, Dennis' passion for wood flowed as he disclosed his techniques freely and openly. The Water Gap Woodturners thanks Dennis for his time and energy and we would welcome him back any time.

The meeting adjourned with the announcement that the next meeting will be about bowl coring systems. Please check back before April 1 for the formal announcement of the meetings schedule.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Water Gap Woodturners hosts Dennis Fuge, Saturday March 7th

Just a friendly reminder that the Water Gap Woodturners will be hosting an all day workshop with Dennis Fuge this weekend at the Peters Valley woodshop. Dennis will be covering decorative techniques for platters. The event starts at 10AM and finishes up around 4PM. Even if you can't stay for the whole day, don't pass up the opportunity to meet Dennis and learn some new techniques!

I know Dennis from NJ Woodturners and I asked him for a syllabus. Here's what he's proposing:

Here is what we are going to do this Saturday.

A) A 15 minute slide show on some of my work.
B) A 30 minute session on log identification called "From Road Kill to Lathe" This covers the identification of the most popular trees in the North East and some very creative ideas as to what to do with them.
C) A 4 to 5 hour demo on "Decorative Platters" – Design, turning, carving, ebonizing, painting, burning, metal inlays, egg shell, branding, ostrich skin, mud matting

About the Artist:

Dennis Fuge has been wood turning for about 38 years. He turned his first item is South Africa when he was 15 years old during the compulsory school wood working class. It received a failing grade, but for him that was not at all important as it started him on my love affair with wood and the beauty which can be created on the lathe. He continued with my wood turning while living in Hong Kong, but for the 10 year he lived there he did not meet a single wood turner. In fact the first 30 years in woodturning we very lonely as he only met 2 other turners during that period, both of those were during his travels to Zimbabwe.

It was only when he came to live in the USA in 1998 that his contact with other turners and artist absolutely exploded. He now lives in Mendham, New Jersey and is a well know demonstrator in the Northeast and is a active contributor to the New Jersey Woodturners Chapter.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

And now a word from our sponsors...

More often than not, a new group struggles to find its identity. With our one year anniversary rapidly approaching, the Water Gap Woodturners is final starting to find its own identity. I firmly believe that we are one of the most "hands-on" clubs in the AAW, with an unofficial charter of a hands-on skills session at least once per quarter. This is somewhat uniquely possible because of the generosity of our host, Peters Valley Craft Center.

Our origins are also somewhat unique. The club was charter by Steve Butler, who heads up the woodworking program at Peters Valley. The funny thing is that Steve is not a woodturner. I keep telling him that it's somewhat disturbing to have our president not know how to use a lathe, and we kid about having to get him some lessons.

But that's what makes this club so special. Folks from all walks of life can get together around a common topic, woodturning, and socialize in a GREAT facility. I think that our willingness to learn from each other coupled with our access to great equipment (9 Oneways- are you jealous? :-)) is a winning combination. And we are not afraid to make shavings...

Peters Valley recently instituted a woodturning program that has had Michael Mocho, Beth Ireland, Graeme Priddle, and Mark Sfirri just to name a few. Many of the instructors in the woodturning program make time to demonstrate to our group, and there's always something going on during the warmer months at Peters Valley woodshop.

If you are looking to take a great class in a quiet corner of NJ, you can find Peters Valley on the internet @ This year's line-up includes Harvey Fein, Craig Nutt, Beth Ireland, and Lee Alexander. Peters Valley also has photography, fine metals, blacksmithing, fibers, ceramics, and woodworking programs.

If you get a chance to take the ride up to Peters Valley this summer, stop by the woodshop and we'll show you around.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 2009 Meeting minutes

The WGW meeting was held on February 11, 2009 at the Peters Valley Craft Center Woodshop in Layton, NJ. Roughly a dozen members were in attendance and braved the mud on Thunder Mountain Road. Only one car got stuck, and was quickly extricated thanks to a downhill lie...

The meeting kicked off with a short discussion of club business. With our one year anniversary just around the corner, it seems like the synergies are starting to take place. People are getting more involved, and the club is growing. 2009 promises to be a great year.

A couple of events that are upcoming were discussed.

The show and tell had several wall hanging by Dan Moore who discussed his method of work for mounting the slabs to the lathe. If we had brought a camera, we could have posted some pictures :-) I encourage the membership to nominate a Club photographer...

During the main discussion, the topic was "Jig, Tips, and Fixtures". Sevral member brought in some of their favorite hints for holding work on the lathe. We saw several versions of the Straka Chuck (aka Donut chuck), cone centers for reversing hollowforms, and how to turn your lathe into a variable speed buffing system. (you'll never throw away a bedsheet again!)

Towards the end of the meeting, a member showed his McNaughton bowl coring unit. It was discovered that several members had an interest in seeing the unit in action, and decide on the spot that it would make a great topic for the April meeting. If you own a McNaughton, please bring it to the April meeting and we'll core some bowls together and let some folks try it out before spending the big $$$.

Next meeting will be on Saturday, March 7th and is an all day session with Dennis Fuge on decorative platters.

Safe spinning.

The Official Water Gap Woodturners Blog Is Here!

With the one year anniversary of Water Gap Woodturners coming next month, we finally have achieved critical mass-we are on the Web!

The Water Gap Woodturners meets at the Peters Valley woodshop in Layton, NJ on the first Wednesday of every month (weather permitting). As a new chapter of the AAW, our club is fortunate enough to have access to a great facility with 8 Oneway 1224 lathes, 1 Oneway 1640 and an 8' Vega! Once per quarter, Water Gap Woodturners has a hands on meeting- meaning we use the equipment and tooling to hone our skills!

This Blog will serve as an announcement board, tips and tricks, and your online newsletter for the WGW. It will be published periodically (when I get to it, when someone sends me something to publish (hint, hint), or shortly after our meetings) to inform members of what's going on, what's coming, and hopefully, as a means of directing new members to what we are all about.

If you need to forward a link to someone, we should be reachable at:

Look forward to seeing everyone in March.

Secretary, WGW