Projects flow from local lathes

Quesnel Woodturners stress safety, creativity and fun

Left to right: George Thompson

For many, they leave aspirations of being a woodturner amongst the shavings on the high school shop floor. But for a select few the spark that ignited their passion for turning wood glows throughout their life.

Most admit they do it for the love of working with wood and freely donate their work to friends and family or to a worthy cause.

The Quesnel Woodturners Guild (QWG), applied their skills and passion to create more than a dozen wig stands for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).

QWG member George Thompson approached CCS.

“I’d been involved with Relay for Life and in conversation with Cathy Briggs, I asked about the need for wig stands,” he said.

And from there, the guild was on board.

Membership in the guild runs around 20 men and women and each month they task each other with a project. The wig stands became one of those projects.

Done mostly in their own workshops, woodturning is somewhat of a solitary hobby.

For Bob Lebeck, his first introduction was in high school. After he graduated, it took a backseat to life for a while, but for the past 25 years he has indulged that passion.

He built his first lathe and it served him well for more than 20 years.

“I liked woodworking in general,” he said.

“I guess a lot of people I know have something I’ve turned.”

George Thompson was a carpenter for his working life, however, once he retired he put the lathe, which had always been a piece of equipment in his home shop, to work. He said he is mostly self-taught but takes every opportunity to learn from those more skilled than himself.

“I began pushing for a club, I wanted to share my passion for turning wood,” he said.

One of the first people Thompson turned to was Rick Fuerstenberg.

Fuerstenberg sheepishly admitted he’d had a lathe in his workshop for five years.

“It was for retirement, but I never touched it,” he said with a grin.

“I also had a good library of books on turning. George prodded me and taught me.”

All three wood turners said mistakes and screw ups were part of the learning process.

“I learned that when you screw up one small bowl and one large

bowl, they can become a bird feeder,” Fuerstenberg said.

Most novice woodturners begin with a small bowl.

The most common wood in the North Cariboo for turning is birch, a hardwood with interesting grains and markings.

“We have the best birch in the province,” Thompson said.

“Others around the province love to get their hands on our birch.”

They also like to get their hands on other hardwoods in the area including maples, oak and mountain ash.

“Sometimes trees have to come down, sometimes they die; we’ll come and get the wood and create beautiful stuff from those trees,” Fuerstenberg said.

And wig stands are just one of the many creations by guild members. Several of the stands will travel up to the Kordyban Cancer Lodge in Prince George where cancer patients will make good use of them.

In order to be right on point as to the height and style of the wig stands, Thompson went online and researched the scope of the project.

“Members created lots of different styles,” Lebeck said.

“Woodturning is only limited by the woodworkers imagination.”

He added many of the wig stands were bowls that weren’t going anywhere.

Thompson, who markets his woodturning at the Quesnel Farmers’ Market, said most don’t sell their work but rather donate it to various fundraising events like auctions and friends and family.

“What I sell at the market covers tools and equipment,” he said.

The guild is always ready to welcome new members, regardless of their skill level or age.

They have a strong emphasis on safety with a motto ‘Don’t get blood on the wood.’

“There also lots of help within the club,” Thompson said.

“We meet once a

month in one of the members shops and usually there’s a demo of some kind.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about Quesnel Woodturners Guild, call George Thompson, 250-992-1548.

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