A Woodworking Vacation and the TWW Guild

Article - November 18, 2015

This is a guest article written by Guild member Steve Lyde about his recent experience building a Sculpted Rocker with fellow Guild member Tim Fuller.

What is a woodworking vacation?  I recently went on what I call a woodworking vacation, a 2000 mile trip spread out over 3 weeks with the intent to build something great with a friend.

Me and TimI think most hunters dream of the big game safari trip and most fishermen dream of a deep sea charter trip. But what do most woodworkers dream of? Just some time off work to spend in our shops? Or maybe you dream of taking a course at one of the many great woodworking schools around the country? My vacation build consisted of traveling from Oklahoma to Iowa for a few weeks to meet an online friend and build a Maloof-style rocker together. Then I would come home via Kansas City for Woodworking In America 2015.

What does this have to do with The Wood Whisperer Guild you might ask?  I have followed Marc’s great videos for many years and joined the Guild about 3 1/2 years ago so I could build the Split-Top Roubo Workbench.  Since then I have gained so much from being a Guild member including both project plans and woodworking techniques.  What I never thought I would gain from the Guild was friendship.  When Marc and Nicole created the Guild Facebook Page they hoped it would be a great place for fellow Guild members to meet up and share ideas and that’s exactly what has happened for me.  Last winter, I was searching the Guild FB page for ideas on building a bucket list project: the Blacker House Chair.  That search lead to becoming friends with fellow Guild member Tim Fuller.

Tim and his family recently invited me to bring my 5th wheel trailer, my dog, a few tools and come spend some time with them in Iowa.  What kind of crazy people do such a thing?  Woodworkers who are crazy about advancing their skills and knowledge do these things. Tim and I are both life long hobbyist woodworkers; which has developed into a passion, or some might say an obsession, for building fine furniture.  We decided it would be great if we could build something together.

Early September, I hooked onto the camper and headed out on my 900 mile journey from southwestern Oklahoma to eastern Iowa.  After arriving, I found that Tim had full RV hookups at his shop so I had a free place to stay. And diesel fuel is as cheap now as it has been in many years so the expense of this trip was actually minimal.

Now working in another man’s shop is a little like wearing someone else’s clothes. It took me a while to get into the swing of things to say the least.  While Tim’s shop is fully equipped and larger than mine, it’s different. Different layout and different tools. Tim had already built two of the Maloof style rockers, similar to the one Marc built in a recent Guild project.  I, on the other hand, had only built one chair: a G&G Blacker House chair. Now before you ask who get’s to keep the chair, it was a gift for someone in Tim’s family. They paid for the walnut from Bell Forest and we provided the labor.

front legOur chair build uses a different crest rail design and different back slats than those in the Guild chair; these are a Hal Taylor design.  The crest rail is made from several pieces of vertical grain wood coopered and glued together.  We went with the coopered seat and carved a recess into the top of the arm rest so they hold your arms in place as you sit in the chair.  The finish is the two-part oil and wax Sam Maloof finish from Rockler.  We worked on the chair for about 8 days and I spent a few days seeing the local sights.  Tim’s family has some land with trees and a 1940’s saw mill which they were kind enough to fire up one afternoon.  It was very exciting for a flat land Oklahoma boy to see that process.  And yes I brought home a big stash of fresh cut oak and ash.

Of course you know when you spend that much time in someone’s shop, you come away with tool envy and for me that was Tim’s Nova DVR XP lathe.  And as luck would have it, I found a new Nova on a special sale that I couldn’t refuse!

I spent about 2 weeks with the Fullers then headed home via Kansas City for the WoodWorking in America event.  This was my first time attending a woodworking show. It was a blast!

A special thanks to the Fullers for making this trip possible, Tim and Marianne are fantastic hosts.  I learned so much about working style and techniques and how to build a  Maloof-style rocker and of course gained a great life long friendship.