Woodworkers gather for an exhibition at Calgary’s Southcenter Mall.

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Stolte discovered woodworking when he was in middle school. Now, at age 72, he still works away from the store. // It has been sent

Delicate woodworking was an art, and Helm Stolte could spend hours on a lathe turning a single piece of wood.

As he spins, he shapes it with a chisel and watches the idea for his piece become reality.

Stolte discovered woodworking when he was in middle school. Now, at age 72, he still works away from the store.

After high school, Stolte earned a degree in education and began teaching elementary school, but she realized it wasn’t for her. However, he enjoyed teaching woodworking classes.

I went back to college and took some industrial education courses to teach shop full time. Stolte has been teaching for 18 years and says he was tired of teaching basic woodworking every year.

Under the trade name Helms Turn, Stolte began doing fine woodworking full time. He also began restoring furniture by creating replacement parts and designing and building original furniture.

“[Wood is] It’s an easy material to work with,” he says. “It’s a warm, diverse, renewable resource, some of which can be used locally.”

40 years ago

Stolte is one of the founding members of the Southern Alberta Woodworking Society (SAWS), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.th This year’s anniversary.

“It was a great time to collaborate with other woodworkers and see what was going on in the woodworking world,” he says.

Although Stolte was confident in his craft, he also knew he had much to learn from other craftsmen.

“Before SAWS, I was doing woodworking in a vacuum.”

Through SAWS, he began to draw ideas from other woodworkers, receive and give advice, and lend and borrow tools.

Mr. Stolte also joined the International Association of Wood Collectors, where he was introduced to approximately 60,000 types of wood from around the world.

“I have a small collection of just over 1 percent of them,” he says.

SAWS members know that if they have questions about wood types, they should ask Stolte. Woodworkers come to her Stolte for advice all the time, whether in person, by phone, email, or at SAWS events.

new west design

Matt Smith is an accomplished woodworker and has been a member of SAWS for over 15 years.

Smith got into the craft world while working on a construction site. While he was building a house, he realized that he preferred finishing work to construction work. Gradually, Smith began working more on furniture and small parts than on residential construction.
Eventually, he started his own business, New West Design, so he could focus on woodworking.

“I particularly enjoy fusing wood and stone,” he says.

Smith creates unique pieces by carving the wood to fit the irregular surfaces of the stone and seamlessly joining the two materials. He also enjoys bending wood and creating unusual shapes and sculptures for his own projects.

“If I knew I was doing it, [bent] “We weren’t able to use a certain thickness of wood or wood species, but we’re excited to try and push those boundaries a little bit more,” he says. “In some cases, more steps or patience may be required.”

Smith custom-makes everything from tables and chairs to cutting boards.

He attended SAWS to meet and learn from local woodworkers.

“Often the puzzle that one of us is trying to solve is someone else who has done something similar,” he says. “We were able to help each other, and we all became a little bit stronger because of it.”

wonderful piece of wood

Smith and Stolte both have items on display at the upcoming Fine Works in Wood exhibition. The exhibition, sponsored by SAWS, will be held at Southcenter Mall from September 1st to 10th.

SAWS holds an exhibition every two years that attracts people from all over Western Canada.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what will be entered this year,” Smith said. “The exhibition is a good opportunity for us to give it our all and see what we can do and try something new.”

Smith will exhibit three works this year. He has a dining table, sculptural light fixtures, and a wine rack.

At Stolte, the exhibition has three corners, and the platters and bowls are all made from locally sourced wood.

“I’ve had a pretty good look at all the work, and I think anyone who comes to the exhibition will be pleasantly surprised by the high quality of work that’s being done in Western Canada,” Stolte said. , for an exhibition where he explained that he was a member of the standards committee.

Quality first

Unlike some commercial furniture makers, Stolte says Fine Woodworkers puts quality first.

“Their objective is to make something as quickly and cheaply as possible, because so much of our society puts price first and quality last,” he says.

But woodworkers take pride in their quality, and their prices only reflect that.

“These pieces are meant to last a lifetime, or even a few years. They’re passed down to future generations. They’re built to last.”

Stolte has no plans to quit woodworking anytime soon. As long as he can manage his parts, he intends to continue creating new items and repairing old ones in his shop.

“It gives me a reason to get up in the morning and I really enjoy working.”

Former SAWS members worked well into their 90s before retiring, so Stolte believes he has another 20 years left.

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