Strait Turners club shares knowledge and love of wood-based craft

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“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 be selling Christmas ornaments and other lovingly produced wood pieces at the event, set for 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4-5, at the center, 921 E. Hammond St.

Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Matthew Barton, membership director for the Strait Turners, demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament on his lathe. He is using a a spindle roughing gouge to remove of the first layer of the wood, local cedar. His shop is large and filled with tools, but he says that beginners need only a few tools to get started and one could turn out a Christmas tree in half a day. The Strait Turners have a couple lathes that they lend to members.Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Matthew Barton, membership director for the Strait Turners, demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament on his lathe. He is using a a spindle roughing gouge to remove of the first layer of the wood, local cedar. His shop is large and filled with tools, but he says that beginners need only a few tools to get started and one could turn out a Christmas tree in half a day. The Strait Turners have a couple lathes that they lend to members.

Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Matthew Barton, membership director for the Strait Turners, demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament on his lathe. He is using a a spindle roughing gouge to remove of the first layer of the wood, local cedar. His shop is large and filled with tools, but he says that beginners need only a few tools to get started and one could turn out a Christmas tree in half a day. The Strait Turners have a couple lathes that they lend to members.

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 Woodworker’s Show, set for Nov. 5-6. Check out the groups’ work from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 6, at the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St., Port Townsend. (See splintergroup.org)

The shape of the craft

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, the “socially enjoyable environment” and more.

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.

Sequim Gazette photoS by Emily Matthiessen
Matthew Barton, membership director for the Strait Turners, demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament on his lathe. He is using a spindle roughing gouge to remove the first layer of the wood, local cedar. His shop is large and filled with tools, but he says that beginners need only a few tools to get started and one could turn out a Christmas tree in half a day. The Strait Turners have a couple lathes that they lend to members.Sequim Gazette photoS by Emily Matthiessen
Matthew Barton, membership director for the Strait Turners, demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament on his lathe. He is using a spindle roughing gouge to remove the first layer of the wood, local cedar. His shop is large and filled with tools, but he says that beginners need only a few tools to get started and one could turn out a Christmas tree in half a day. The Strait Turners have a couple lathes that they lend to members.

Sequim Gazette photoS by Emily Matthiessen
Matthew Barton, membership director for the Strait Turners, demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament on his lathe. He is using a spindle roughing gouge to remove the first layer of the wood, local cedar. His shop is large and filled with tools, but he says that beginners need only a few tools to get started and one could turn out a Christmas tree in half a day. The Strait Turners have a couple lathes that they lend to members.

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, utilizes 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.”

Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Strait Turner member Dave Sellman shares a Christmas ornament he made for the Shipley Center's upcoming holiday bazaar, set for Friday and Sunday. He says it is a "Sputnik ornament with sea urchin and walnut finials"Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Strait Turner member Dave Sellman shares a Christmas ornament he made for the Shipley Center's upcoming holiday bazaar, set for Friday and Sunday. He says it is a "Sputnik ornament with sea urchin and walnut finials"

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 we already had our face masks,” Henschel said.

Collaboration

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.

Members of the Strait Turners, a local chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, are turning the Christmas ornaments for the Shipley Center’s holiday bazaar on Friday and Saturday. Here, membership director and Sequim resident Matthew Barton demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament from local cedar on a full-size lathe, using a parting tool from D-Way tools (www.D-WayTools.com) a Silverdale business.Members of the Strait Turners, a local chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, are turning the Christmas ornaments for the Shipley Center’s holiday bazaar on Friday and Saturday. Here, membership director and Sequim resident Matthew Barton demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament from local cedar on a full-size lathe, using a parting tool from D-Way tools (www.D-WayTools.com) a Silverdale business.

Members of the Strait Turners, a local chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, are turning the Christmas ornaments for the Shipley Center’s holiday bazaar on Friday and Saturday. Here, membership director and Sequim resident Matthew Barton demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament from local cedar on a full-size lathe, using a parting tool from D-Way tools (www.D-WayTools.com) a Silverdale business.

“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 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.”

Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Matthew Barton, membership director of the Strait Turners, shares a large 21” platter made from spalted elm on a lathe. Barton has been turning wood for about a year. He says, “The advantage of woodturning over other kinds of woodworking is instant gratification. You can make something so quickly.”Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Matthew Barton, membership director of the Strait Turners, shares a large 21” platter made from spalted elm on a lathe. Barton has been turning wood for about a year. He says, “The advantage of woodturning over other kinds of woodworking is instant gratification. You can make something so quickly.”

Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Matthew Barton, membership director of the Strait Turners, shares a large 21” platter made from spalted elm on a lathe. Barton has been turning wood for about a year. He says, “The advantage of woodturning over other kinds of woodworking is instant gratification. You can make something so quickly.”

“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.

Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Members of the Strait Turners, a local chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, are turning out the Christmas ornaments for the Shipley Center's holiday bazaar on Friday and Saturday. Here, membership director and Sequim resident Matthew Barton demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament from local cedar on a full-size lathe, using a parting tool from D-Way tools (www.D-WayTools.com) a Silverdale business.Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Members of the Strait Turners, a local chapter of the American Association of Woodturners, are turning out the Christmas ornaments for the Shipley Center's holiday bazaar on Friday and Saturday. Here, membership director and Sequim resident Matthew Barton demonstrates how to make a Christmas tree ornament from local cedar on a full-size lathe, using a parting tool from D-Way tools (www.D-WayTools.com) a Silverdale business.

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

As Geisbush explained, the Strait Turner’s 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.

Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / A collection of Christmas tree ornaments that Sequim resident Matthew Barton, membership director of the Strait Turners club, created from various woods waits for the holiday bazaar at the Shipley Center this Friday and Saturday. Barton says that woodturning is a lot of fun and encourages community members to consider joining the club.Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / A collection of Christmas tree ornaments that Sequim resident Matthew Barton, membership director of the Strait Turners club, created from various woods waits for the holiday bazaar at the Shipley Center this Friday and Saturday. Barton says that woodturning is a lot of fun and encourages community members to consider joining the club.

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 Matthew Barton at 360-683-4877.

Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Strait Turner member Dave Sellman shares a mini birdhouse ornament made from mini birdhouse ornament, turned from walnut wood, for the Shipley Center's upcoming holiday bazaar, set for Friday and Sunday.Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen / Strait Turner member Dave Sellman shares a mini birdhouse ornament made from mini birdhouse ornament, turned from walnut wood, for the Shipley Center's upcoming holiday bazaar, set for Friday and Sunday.
Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen
 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 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 Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County. He says, “I hope that other wheelchair bound individuals will realize that they can be creative and stretch their boundaries.”Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen
 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 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 Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County. He says, “I hope that other wheelchair bound individuals will realize that they can be creative and stretch their boundaries.”

Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen
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 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 Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County. He says, “I hope that other wheelchair bound individuals will realize that they can be creative and stretch their boundaries.”





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