May 2005


President's corner

Next meeting

Last meeting


This n That


Last Meeting

Our April meeting started with Stan Booker our Rafflemeister describing the very large Walnut board which was still on the block. Another prize for the raffle was a router bit set with ½" shanks. The door prizes for the evening were a spalted Cherry log, a tool bag and BAWA hats.

Craig called for someone to volunteer to be a Refreshment Coordinator or at least take on refreshments for a month or so. No one volunteered so after some discussion, the membership voted to cancel refreshments at the meetings. There were announcements about the upcoming Rebuilding Together project and the Santa Clara Wood Show booth.

A BIG announcement was that Bill Henzel is getting married! And he is moving his shop and needs help. Call him at 650/349-3062 or if you want to help.

Show & Suffer-Tony Fanning bought some used angled molding quite cheaply. The mitered corners could not be made as you would for a square box. He said that you had to think through the process backwards. After ruining several pieces, he finally figured it out. He made "story boards" lest he forget.

Main Presentation

Paul Strayer has been a stage carpenter and shop manager for the Drama Department at Stanford University for twenty-five years. He graduated from USC with a technical degree in design and theater. He started working at Stanford when he was twenty-five years old. The Drama Dept Wood Shop occupies 2500 square feet in the basement of the Memorial Auditorium. He described the building and all the faults with it but he has made it work and considers it as his own shop as well so spends a considerable amount of time working on his own projects. He gave us a tour of the shop. Paul likes the Bench Dog router table system. He has two. The shop is well equipped with table saws, band saws, jointer, planer, edge bander, hollow chisel mortiser, lathe, numerous routers, assembly tables, and lots of stored wood. The University is willing to spend for safety however because of the nature of the building, a central dust collection system would be very difficult to install. So there are separate and isolated dust collection at each major machine. They use lots of dustless tools. The shop operates under a budget from the University. Budgeted items include tools, supplies, maintenance and personnel. Each stage production has a budget part of which is for sets and set production. The Shop has lots of "strikes" each year. The original theater riggers were sailors and their language was adopted into the vernacular of the stage. To "strike" means to take down the stage sets when the theater production is finished. Paul recounted a time when at 3 am he was stopped by the Highway Patrol. He was tired, haggard and heading home. He explained to the officer "I'm just coming home from a strike." Labor relations at Stanford are excellent. Paul makes much of his own furniture. He favors the Greene & Greene or Arts and Crafts style. He likes to use Oak. His wife does the upholstery and dyes the fabric. He has built furniture for the Drama Department's meeting rooms with the Green Room being a favorite meeting room. Students take woodworking instruction from Paul. Since there are no courses in stagecraft , students come from varied disciplines such as Medical (a surgeon is a student!), Engineering, and the Humanities do work in the shop. One student is making a dresser with Poplar. Another is making a Mahogany garden chair. Typically students make their own plans. If the students are experienced woodworkers, the shop is open to them. Otherwise they are required to have supervision. Paul is very proud of the fact that there has not been an accident in 25 years. Contrary to rumor that the THUMB found in chili did not come from his shop. Students also help making scenery so costs are much lower than in professional theaters. Sets are also broken down and pieces recycled. We were given a tour of the set staging area where the sets are assembled before being moved onto the stage for a theater production. It is a vast room directly above the shop below. Access hatches can be opened to move structures upstairs. The shop uses lots of ¼" Luan plywood since it is relatively light and can be moved easily. The real treat of the evening was a visit to the back stage of the auditorium itself. The stage is a vast cavern and is seven stories tall. Rigging ropes, racks of lights, ladders and catwalks pierced the darkness above the stage. As we looked out from the stage to the empty auditorium the silence was surreal. How must the players feel as they see and sense an audience waiting in anticipation of the play? There were many questions at the end of his presentation.

Following the break where members munched on goodies as they voted for their favorites in the Box Contest.

The box descriptions and winners are as follows.

1.Fred Reicher presented a band saw box of Cherry and Maple with a Watco finish. He won the prize for Most Intricate.

2.Mark Rand turned a round bowl, cut it in half and joined the two pieces with wooden hinges. The box was buffed with wheels using rouge and white compounds, then buffed with wax. Mark won Most Original.

3.Gene Wagg presented the box-in-a-box times 6 using scrap wood from his shop. The boxes were constructed with mitered corners and finished with a gel finish, the "good stuff". Gene won Best Execution.

4.Dave Reese made a box of White Oak and Cocobolo that had a cane top insert and finished with Polyurethane. It won an Open category.

5.Andy Gross made a writing desk box for his 7 ½ year old grand daughter. A roll of paper is held inside the desk and can be drawn up onto the writing surface. He used recycled Mahogany with a wipe on Poly finish. He won the Most Unusual prize.

6.Paul Reiser made a set of Shaker boxes with copper nails and finished with Deft. It won the Classic prize.

7.The "Woodworking Machine", Paul Reiser, also made a Buckeye band sawn box finished with wax. It won the Most Modern category prize.

8.Claude Godcharles made a set of three little boxes of Redwood and Fir. This was a prototype for 15 gifts he made last Christmas. He won an Open category prize.

9.Another "Woodworking Machine", Claude also made a book matched box set and easels. It too won an Open category prize.

10.Mark Bouquet made a multi-spur bit box from salvaged Mahogany wood. The box is made to hold the bits in two layers. It won the Most Useful category prize.

In the Professional Realm:

Being in the recycling business, Larry Berger showed us his chest box made from reclaimed materials. It is an eclectic combination of disparate shapes, colors and trim. He makes pieces as he goes without drawings, relying on the creative muse to guide him. This piece has three different sewing machine drawers, legs from a bed, a top of hardwood flooring, and no finish, only what is already on the reclaimed materials. It is a bit whimsical.

Richard Winslow showed a combination turned and wood worked box made of Teak.

Yueng Chan wanted to see how small he could make dovetails in a small marquetry box. Not content with the first box, he made another to go inside the first. Then, he put a working hand plane, perhaps it should be called a finger plane, inside the second box. Yueng won the Pro Best of Show award.

Member Stan Booker tried to muscle his way into the contest with beautifully made toy wooden road-grader claiming it was a box. He managed to bully the judges but then his reason prevailed and he graciously withdrew. It was a beautifully made grader and he got the plans from the Great All American Wooden Toy book by Norman Marshall.

After the awarding of the certificates and a group photo of the box contest winners, the meeting came to an end. The winners went home happy, the winners of the door prizes went home happy and the rest of the members went home happy since they just survived another great BAWA meeting.

John Blackmore & Mark Rand