Woodworking show set for Shipley Center in Sequim

Strait Turners club members share knowledge and love of craft

  • By Emily Matthiessen Olympic Peninsula News Group
  • Friday, November 4, 2022 1:30am
  • LifeClallam County
Emily Matthiessen / Olympic Peninsula News Group
Sequim resident Dave Sellman, five-year member of the Strait Turners, works at a lathe that he set up at an angle so that he could turn wood in his wheelchair. He says that wood turning is accessible for many people who have physical restrictions or space restrictions. His shop is small but contains all the equipment he needs to turn out beautiful pieces that he gives to his loved ones or sells at Shipley Center events, donating all proceeds to charity, especially the VOHCC. He says, "I hope that other wheelchair bound individuals will realize that they can be creative and stretch their boundaries."

SEQUIM — “Each piece of wood has its own character, and you have to bring its character out,” said Sequim resident Dave Sellman, who enjoys creating useful and decorative objects using beautiful woods and antlers, both for his family and to sell at the Shipley Center to raise money for charity.

Sellman will have a table alongside that of his woodturning club, the Strait Turners, at the Shipley Center’s upcoming holiday bazaar.

Club members will sell Christmas ornaments and other wood pieces at the event, set for 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today and Saturday at the center, 921 E. Hammond St.

Woodworking aficionados also have a chance to enjoy work by the Strait Turners, Seattle Spoon Club and the host Splinter Group, a Port Townsend-based club, at the Port Townsend Woodworkers’ Show, set for Saturday and Sunday.

Check out the groups’ work from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St., Port Townsend. (See splintergroup.org)

Woodturning is an ancient art, going back at least as far as ancient Egypt. Members of the Strait Turners club said that there are many reasons to join the club and practice woodturning, such as the sharing of knowledge, assistance with learning basic and advanced skills and the “socially enjoyable environment.”

Members enjoy working with exotic woods at low cost (compared to larger wood working) or with gathered woods for no cost, and bringing out the hidden character of the wood. Most often, they mention how fun it is, and how one can begin in a day and spend the rest of one’s life learning.

As the club’s membership director Matthew Barton put it, “You can take someone who has never done it before and in a day they can turn a bowl.”

Modern woodturning, as demonstrated by club members, uses an electric lathe, either a mini (for things like pens), a midi or a full-size, and hand tools such as gouges and chisels for stripping and shaping the wood as it turns on the lathe.

“It doesn’t take that much equipment [to get started],” Sellman said. “A lathe, a band saw, and something to sharpen tools with, like a belt grinder, is really about all you need.”

Sellman said that he adapted the angle and height of his lathe to accommodate working in his wheelchair.

“In woodturning, we have to watch out for extremely fine dust getting into the lungs,” noted club member Valerie Henschel. That means using face protection and vacuum systems, she said.

“When COVID showed up, we already had our face masks,” Henschel said.

Members share their skills with each other, either at the monthly meeting or at smaller meetings during the month. At every monthly meeting, held at the Gardiner Community Center every third Saturday at noon, the club hosts a demonstrator.

“There are parts that apply to the novice or others to the more experienced turner,” club president John Geisbush explained.

Although familiar with other woodworking, Barton said he has been turning for about a year, embracing his new hobby since retiring.

“For me, I like to learn, get a little better all the time,” he said.

Barton said he agreed to be membership director because he thought, “If I’m having this much fun, maybe I can help someone else have fun.”

“It doesn’t take very long to learn the basics, and there’s so much to learn the sky’s the limit,” said Henschel, who has been with the group since before it filed for incorporation in 2016.

Henschel said she started turning “about the time the club started.” A photographer for many years, she said woodturning now gives her more satisfaction.

“With woodturning I have a 3-D object left when I’m done,” she said. “I don’t feel limits in woodturning.”

The Strait Turners Club is a “spin-off” of the Olympic Peninsula Woodturners. People from Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend and surrounding areas were tired of driving to and from night meetings in the Bremerton area.

Herschel said she was one of the original six founders of the club. She said at an early meeting “the vote was taken to form a chapter … thirty people were there.”

Within six months, she said, there were 50 members.

Membership dipped a bit during the COVID pandemic, members said, as meetings were entirely held on Zoom. Now, meetings are a hybrid of zoom and in person.

Geisbush said the Strait Turners boasts about 55 in “good standing” and 110 overall.

“I’d like to see it up to 60 or 65 paid members,” he said.

Dues are $30 per year; and application and more is available at straitturners.org.

Sellman, who has been turning for five years, said the talent among Strait Turners is impressive.

“The guys are really talented,” he said. “I feel like a novice among them. Some of the things they turn out are unbelievable.

“Everybody is available to help. There are so many facets to it … they are always really helpful sharing that knowledge.”

For more information about Strait Turners, call Barton at 360-683-4877.

________

Emily Matthiessen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at emily.matthiessen@sequimgazette.com.

Sequim resident Dave Sellman, five-year member of the Strait Turners, works at a lathe that he set up at an angle so that he could turn wood in his wheelchair. He says that wood turning is accessible for many people who have physical restrictions or space restrictions. His shop is small but contains all the equipment he needs to turn out beautiful pieces that he gives to his loved ones or sells at Shipley Center events, donating all proceeds to charity, especially the VOHCC. He says, “I hope that other wheelchair bound individuals will realize that they can be creative and stretch their boundaries.” (Emily Matthiessen /Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim resident Dave Sellman, five-year member of the Strait Turners, works at a lathe that he set up at an angle so that he could turn wood in his wheelchair. He says that wood turning is accessible for many people who have physical restrictions or space restrictions. His shop is small but contains all the equipment he needs to turn out beautiful pieces that he gives to his loved ones or sells at Shipley Center events, donating all proceeds to charity, especially the VOHCC. He says, “I hope that other wheelchair bound individuals will realize that they can be creative and stretch their boundaries.” (Emily Matthiessen /Olympic Peninsula News Group)

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