Fascinating Sawmill Demonstration

sawmill meeting10-impOur July meeting was extraordinarily delicious, fun and super educational. We were all invited to push a big log through Scott Walters’ outdoor sawmill just to experience the rush. I was busy taking photos so I didn’t try it, but several members did. A couple of members brought logs to mill, including one gorgeous Russian Olive chunk from Anna. All of us attendees got to take home a beautiful green ash live-edge slab to make into whatever we want! I am not sure what I’m going to get Tim to make out of my slab [grin.]

Cort Harrington regaled us with spicy carnitas, tortillas and homemade gingerale. And of course, all the rest of us contributed lots of other goodies to the potluck. Mmmm-mmm! What a fabulous summer evening and a great way to spend it!

Below are some photos from the meeting. Enjoy! And we’ll see you at Bruce Ewal’s shop, Superior Sharpening on the first Monday of August. On the program next time is a demonstration of SawStop table saw and safety equipment. Bruce’s shop is located at 1301 Orange Avenue in Helena. Call Bruce for more information or directions on how to get there. His phone number is 449-0919.

Thank you, Scott, for hosting this meeting and Cort, for sharing such scrumptious food. And thank you to all who came. See you next time at Superior Sharpening!


July Guild Meeting – Sawmill Demonstration

Very Big Log

You are invited to bring a log to the meeting if you would like to have Scott demonstrate cutting it on his lumber mill.
Please do not bring a log this big, though. 😉


The Helena Woodworkers Guild will meet on July 7th at 6:00 pm. Scott Walters will host our meeting this month at his mill in Unionville.

Meeting Details:

  • Where: Unionville, Scott Walter’s place
  • Date: July 8th
  • Time: 6:00 pm to 8:00-ish
  • Potluck: main dish Yucatan Pulled Pork. Bring a sidedish, dessert and beverage
  • Program: Lumber mill demonstration. Bring a log if you have one
Anna, Scott and Cort hobknobbing at a Guild meeting

Anna, Scott and Cort hobknobbing at a Guild meeting

PROGRAM: Scott will demonstrate his lumber mill with a large green ash log. Members are encouraged/welcome to bring a log to have milled as well.

DIRECTIONS: Go through Unionville and his mill gate is the fourth left after the pavement ends. He will put a sign at the entrance.

CARPOOLING: Due to lack of parking space, we encourage you to car pool. Meet in the federal building parking lot at 5:40 pm and we’ll figure out the carpooling from there. People who can walk a bit may also park by the historical marker at the top of Unionville. It is just short quarter mile from there to the mill yard gate. If you are bringing a log you will need to drive in at the mill yard. We might end up doing some vehicle shuffling if there are a few logs.

POTLUCK: Cort Harrington has graciously agreed to provide our main dish, Yucatan Pulled Pork. Yummm! Bring a side dish, dessert and beverage to go with the pulled pork.

Sounds like a very interesting and fun evening program. We’ll probably be making alot more sawdust than any of us usually do! See you on the 7th at Scott’s mill.


Big log

Ginormous Log


Free to Good Home: Evans Royal T-Mold Applicator

Evans Royal T-Mold Applicator

A friend of the Helena Woodworker’s Guild found this (almost) vintage t-mold applicator in the back of a semi trailer she bought. They are looking for a good home for the machine.

It was made by Evans-Royal  in the 70s and was previously owned by a furniture-maker in Missoula, Montana. The guy at the Evans Royal website told them the current model is #1050 and that this one is probably model#1000.

The machine is located in Helena.   They are giving it away free — you would just have to haul it yourself. Take a look at the photos and if you are interested, please email Laurie at lbjrklnd@gmail.com to see it or got get it.

Go forth and get this free if you think you’d make cool stuff with this weird machine! 

Evans Royal T-Mold Applicator Evans Royal T-Mold Applicator

Vintage Evans-Royal T-Mold Applicator — again, if you are interested in taking a look at this machine and getting it for free, email lbjrklnd@gmail.com. 


June Guild Meeting — Duck Hunting Tools

Mallard Decoys by Ralph Yaeger

There is a certain mystique associated with wildfowling, or waterfowl hunting. We hope to shed a little light on the tools of the trade, so to speak, on Monday evening, June 2nd at our next Helena Woodworkers Guild meeting (scroll down for details on the meeting.)

We have a fascinating program lined up for the June meeting. Ralph Yaeger will show us examples of his hand carved duck decoys and duck calls and will lead a discussion about the rewards of designing and carving these tools of his avocation.  He’ll also bring his hunting outfit and his tool kit, which he claims fits in a shoe box.

Duck Call by Ralph Yaeger

Here, Ralph talks about what got him started carving these small works of functional art:

I could have purchased the decoys, but most of what’s available for duck hunters is plastic and that really saddened me. In the old days, so many guys made as much of their own equipment as they could and to me, that was just so much more beautiful.

So he decided after a couple of years of hunting birds with plastic stuff, that he wanted to make his own. It took several years to make a full rig for himself. He also collects hand made duck calls.

Most guys use a drill press to bore a blank and a lathe to turn it down. I make mine with hand tools. It turned into something much more than just making my own decoys and calls. I only make about 6 calls a year because it takes a long time and my hands get sore from carving.

For Ralph, the main value in making his own duck hunting gear hasn’t been monetary (saving money by making his own.) It has been the reward of making and designing something he never dreamed he was capable of … thinking of the next design, the next carving, is very relaxing and satisfying for Ralph when he’s lying awake at night. I guess you could say Ralph counts ducks instead of sheep. Quack!

“It is a gift to create something that you never dreamed you would be capable of making. I never dreamed I would do something quite this good, and it makes me very happy.”

Duck Calls by Ralph Yaeger

The Helena Woodworkers Guild meeting for June, 2014 will be Monday, June 2nd at 6:00 pm. Lance Seaman will host our meeting in his woodworking shop at 21 Jackson Creek Road in Montana City. 

Here’s what’s on the agenda for the evening:

  • 6:00 pm: Potluck dinner with your fellow woodworkers. Lance will provide the main dish, some kind of hot sandwich like pulled pork or sloppy joes. Please bring a salad, dessert or side dish to share, and a beverage of your choice. If you are super busy — or if you are new to the guild and just checking us out — don’t worry about bringing a dish. There is always enough food!
  • The evening’s program will be presented by Ralph Yaeger.

Meeting Details:

  • Date: Monday, June 2nd
  • Time: 6:00 pm to around 8:00 ish
  • Where: Lance Seaman’s shop in Montana City — 21 Jackson Creek Road  (See the detailed google map below. Zoom out to see Helena on the map.)
  • Please Bring: side dish (anything that goes with hot sandwiches) Also a beverage to share
  • Also bring: a friend who might be interested in joining, or who just wants to check us out!
  • Lance Seaman’s phone number: 442-8459

See you at the meeting on Monday! 

Map to Lance’s shop at 21 Jackson Creek Road, Helena, Montana:

Directions to Lance’s shop: drive south on I-15 or Colonial Drive (Frontage Road) to Montana City roundabout. Head west on Jackson Creek Road about 2/10 of a mile. His shop is on the south side of the road (left) directly across from Guardian Kennels. Lance will put a sign out on the road, but says you really can’t miss his brown shop building. See you there!


Come to May Guild Meeting to Learn About Chairs

Tim Carney

A poll of woodworkers at The Wood Whisperer, asked, “which do you think is the most challenging project?” Of a total 1069 votes, 796 woodworkers said “building a chair” was the most challenging. (For the other projects on the list, and poll results, see the screenshot at the bottom of this post.) Many of the commenters also mentioned building musical instruments as their most challenging woodworking project.

Dining Chair by Tim Carney of Timothy's Fine Woodworking

A chair is a complicated piece of furniture to build. It should be pleasing to the eye, and pleasing to the butt (and back!) and if it’s not both of those things … well, then it’s not a well-designed chair and doesn’t fulfill it’s true purpose.

So … how many of you are interested in learning more about what, to many woodworkers, seems a difficult if not impossible challenge? You’ll get your chance on Monday May 5th at our next Guild meeting. Tim Carney will be demonstrating and talking about chairs, stools and tips and techniques for building them.

The Helena Woodworkers Guild meeting for May, 2014 will be Monday, May 5th pm. Tim will host our meeting in his woodworking shop at 3025 East Bozeman Avenue.

Here’s what’s on the agenda for the evening:

  • 6:00 pm: Potluck dinner with your fellow woodworkers. Tim and Maureen will provide the main dish: Slow-cooked Bolognese Sauce on Fettucini. Be prepared for garlic and taste-bud-popping flavors! Please bring a salad, dessert or side dish to share, and a beverage of your choice. If you are super busy — or if you are new to the guild and just checking us out — don’t worry about bringing a dish. There is always enough food!
  • The evening’s program will be presented by Tim as well. He will give us tips and show us techniques for building chairs and stools, with a goal of trying to make chair building seem less intimidating than most woodworkers believe it is. Who knows … maybe someday we will convince Tim to do a workshop on building a simple yet comfortable chair (comfort is the trick.)

Meeting Details:

  • Date: Monday, May 5th
  • Time: 6:00 pm to around 8:00 ish
  • Where: 3025 East Bozeman Avenue. Tim’s shop is on the south side of the big tan building (See the detailed google map below. Zoom out to see Helena on the map.)
  • Please Bring: side dish (salad, garlic bread would be great) or dessert. Also a beverage to share
  • Also bring: a friend who might be interested in joining, or who just wants to check us out!
  • Tim Carney’s Phone Numbers: cell: 461-8621 shop: 449-2730

See you at the meeting on Monday! 

Map to Tim’s Shop at 3025 East Bozeman Ave, Helena, Montana:

Comments on the most challenging part of woodworking:

Hal P. — Putting the tools away and not tracking sawdust in the house

Jim H. — Wait, you do this? I tried once, but then forgot.



Even the most basic chair must support a body comfortably and be strong enough to take lots of rocking and rolling. This likely involves angled joinery; add some grace to the design and you’re probably working with curved parts as well. Alot of woodworkers shy away from making chairs. But there are many good reason for building them. Design a dining table or desk and it seems only fitting to complete the project by building the chairs too. Dealing with angled joinery and curved parts exposes you to making patterns, full-scale drawings, mock-ups, and thinking in three dimensions. Also, chairs are great for improving hand skills such as fitting joints and smoothing curves. — from Fine Woodworking article, “Chair Making Simplified”

Pinterest links to images of chairs (some more comfy lookin than others …) and other woodworking stuff:


This is just a screenshot of a poll on Wood Whisperer. Sorry. This doesn’t allow you to vote. Poll Results Wood Whisperer


Earth Day Brings Awareness of the Woods We Use


Earth Day is a day to celebrate our beautiful, amazing, yet fragile planet. It’s also a day to contribute to Earth’s survival and healing as much as we can.

As a member of the Helena Woodworkers Guild, and co-owner of a little gallery that exhibits woodworking, I have been thinking about how our use of wood impacts the environment. How many of us use exotic hardwoods in our woodworking, or have furniture in our homes made of these trees?

I’m sure you have thought about using fewer of the endangered or threatened tree species in your woodworking. As woodworkers or consumers of wood items, this is one way we can make an impact on environmental health that isn’t really inconvenient at all. We just need to educate ourselves about which woods are threatened, and which are not. How about starting a conversation in the comments below this post — or at our guild meetings — about this topic? For example, do you have alternatives to dark — almost black — endangered accent woods such as Ebony or Wenge? What do you use?

So in the spirit of Earth Day, I hope this post inspires you, both educationally and visually. If you haven’t already done so, how about making a change in the types of woods you use in your shop?

Wenge is a popular woodworker’s species I’ll use as an example. The wood is absolutely gorgeous! It’s deep brown color becomes almost totally black when finished. Wenge is trendy in contemporary cabinetry and furniture and makes beautiful accents.  Yet it is an endangered exotic tree species. Wenge’s scientific (botanical) name is Millettia laurentii. Woodworkers could cut way back on using Wenge and it wouldn’t be the least bit inconvenient. In fact, Wenge is notoriously difficult to work with: it splinters, sands unevenly and blunts tools.

I am in awe of the complex designs and utter artistry of Nature. Take a look at these micro-images of wenge below (and the featured photo at top.) Aren’t these fabulous designs? I can imagine textiles, paintings, ceramic glazes, collage and patterns inspired by the naturally occurring “internal” designs of these trees.


Note the huge pores in the top photo. This is why wenge is splintery and hard to sand.



Some LInks:



April Guild Meeting: Out of the Woodwork Like Magic

It seems like every month lately, a handful of woodworkers who are new to the Helena Woodworkers Guild, come to our meetings. I am constantly amazed at the talent in this town! Where have all these wood artisans been hiding? Like magic, they are coming out of the woodwork to join us and the guild is so much richer for the diversity of skills and visions they bring. Thank you all for coming last night! And thank you to Dave Ashley, for inviting Chris and Tom to do last night’s presentation.

Tom Dooling shared his beautiful turned bowls and lidded containers with the guild last night.

Tom Dooling shared his beautiful turned bowls and lidded containers with the guild last night.


Chris Clearman shared his stunning bird carvings with guild members at our April Meeting

Turned Bowl and Container by Tom Dooling

Salad Bowl and Lidded Container by Tom Dooling

Canada Goose -- a work in progress -- by Chris Clearman

Canada Goose — a work in progress — by Chris Clearman

Dave Ashley hosted a fantastic Guild meeting at his shop, Helena Hardwoods, on April 7th. Grilled brats and TONS of smoke from the grill, anchored our as-usual-delicious-potluck. We hope all you guys who came for the first time last night, decide to join the Guild and come to future meetings. Thanks for being there!

The program was inspiring: Tom Dooling and Chris Clearman showed us their absolutely beautiful wood art. Chris carves birds from many different wood species. The detail was incredible! We found out he is self-taught and has never seen anyone carve birds like this before. You have to see them in person to believe the intricacy and accuracy, but check out the photos below for a little taste.

Tom’s turned salad bowl and lidded container are amazing — so much thought and planning has to go into gluing up the main chunk of wood (my non-woodworker way of saying it) in order to have the different components of the bowls “turn out” the way he envisions them. And man, do they turn out! The salad bowl is comprised of satin wood, maple, wenge, walnut and cherry and is so light and thin, yet very strong.

Please enjoy the photos, and click on the smaller thumbnails in the gallery at the bottom of this post to see other pics of the fun we (always) have at our guild meetings.


Marissa examining a lidded container by Tom Dooling

Tom Explains his Technique

Tom explaining the techniques he uses in his turned containers and bowls

Showing off this beautiful turned bowl

Turned bowl by Tom Dooling


Guild members listen intently to Chris as he explains his carving techniques


Hawk by Chris Clearman


Chris gives tips on how he chooses the woods for his birds, along with his carving techniques


Detail of Pheasant feathers by Chris Clearman

Our next guild meeting will be held on May 5th at the usual time, 6:00 pm. Meetings are always on the first Monday of the month. Meeting host is to be determined. Watch our blog here, for meeting details. We usually post an announcement of the meeting location and program 1 week before the meeting. If you would like to receive an email with meeting announcement and a link to the post, please send your contact information to Bill Daigle by email: daigle.bill@gmail.com. 


April Guild Meeting Features a Turner and a Carver

Guild-dave ashley and chris yavah

Our April Helena Woodworkers Guild meeting will be Monday, April 7th pmDave Ashley will host our meeting at Helena Hardwoods (3290 Centennial Drive.) We have a couple of first class wood artists giving a presentation on carved wood birds, and turned bowls.

Carved Geese by Chris Clearman of Wildwoods

Here’s what’s on the program:

  • 6:00 pm: Potluck dinner with your fellow woodworkers. Dave Ashley will provide our main dish: different meats to be grilled on his bbq, along with buns and condiments. Please bring a salad, dessert or side dish to share, and a beverage of your choice. If you are super busy — or if you are new to the guild and just checking us out — don’t worry about bringing a dish. There is always enough food!
  • The evening’s program will be presented by Chris Clearman and Tom Dooling. Chris will share his carved birds with us (see photo above) and Tom will show us some of his exquisite turned bowls. Both gentlemen use multiple species of woods to create gorgeous details and interesting patterns in their pieces. They are prepared to talk about processes, tools, woods and inspirations. They will also be happy to answer questions.
  • If time allows, Dave will give an educational talk about plywoods: the different cores, surfaces and the materials in plywoods, along with benefits of using plywoods.

Carved Hawk by Chris Clearman of Wildwoods Pheasant by Chris Clearman of Wildwoods

Meeting Details:

  • Date: Monday, April 7th
  • Time: 6:00 pm to around 8:00 ish
  • Where: 3290 Centennial Drive across US Highway 12 from the Subway sandwich shop, between Helena and East Helena. (click here to go to a detailed google map. Zoom out to see Helena on the map.)
  • Please Bring: side dish or dessert. Also a beverage to share
  • Also bring: a friend who might be interested in joining, or who just wants to check us out!
  • Dave Ashley’s Phone Number: 495-1066

See you at the meeting on Monday! 

GuildDaveAshley September Meeting Helena Woodworkers Guild GuildDaveinForklift



CNC Demo at March Guild Meeting

Crowd Around

Great meeting last night! We came in droves — in spite of the icy roads. But braving the snowy evening was well worth the drive out to the north Helena valley and Leonard’s shop.

Clock by Leonard Cloninger

Leonard’s shop is the cleanest woodworking shop I have ever ever seen. It’s even cleaner than shops I’ve seen in magazines like Fine Woodworking. OMG — before everybody got there and tracked snow and mud on the floor, you could have licked the floor, it was so clean. I didn’t see a molecule of sawdust anywhere. Tee-hee. And organized! Check out these nooks and crannies of Leonard’s space for organization:

Thank you to Leonard and one of our new members, Andy Sever, for the fascinating talk and CNC demo. These guys showed us how to use the CNC machine to cut and carve clock parts and a three-dimensional figurative carving. Andy demonstrated how the CNC machine can “scan” pretty much any three dimensional surface and convert that into data used by the CNC to duplicate that surface carving. Pretty cool.

Leonard also had several of his clocks on display, which both he and Andy claim are not as intricate as they look. Well, they sure seem complicated to me! The clocks are really cool to see in person. Here is a short clip showing a closeup of the gears ticking away.

Around the corner, I found a room devoted to Leonard’s model airplane hobby. Some views of his airplane “hangar.”

What a feast! Leonard says his wife Carol loves to entertain and cook for folks and boy did she impress us all last night with the pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches. But somehow I think her idea to serve beverages packed in snow in this tub was the piece de resistance of the evening potluck. Carol and Leonard, you realize that you have raised the bar for our potlucks now, don’t you? The food at these meetings just keeps getting more and more scrumptious.


In other business, I gave a brief tour of our website’s member directory and member galleries … I was hoping to build a fire under your member-butts to send me photos of your woodworking projects. I’d like to make more member galleries. 😉

Tim Carney gave us an update on the planned two-day Sketch-Up workshop with Phillip Pontillo. We are hoping to have the workshop sometime in late May. It will probably be two 6 hour days at the library computer lab. Fee for the workshop will be minimal, with a discount for guild members. We’ll promote the workshop to the whole community, not just woodworkers. Watch for more details via the email list and on our website.

Okay, more than enough for now. See you in April at the next guild meeting!




Be “On Time” for March Guild Meeting

Leonard Cloninger

The March Helena Woodworkers Guild meeting will be Monday, March 3rd at 6:00 pm. Leonard Cloninger will be hosting our meeting at his shop. Leonard creates amazing contemporary clocks of wood and metals, and will be giving us a demonstration of cutting on the CNC machine, which he uses in fabrication of his clocks.


Leonard makes the clocks of white oak, maple and walnut. He might have several at his shop, so we can see how they function, up close and personal. Leo says he has to “keep them for about a month to get them running on time and work out any bugs they might have.”

Our host may also have several scroll saw projects for members to view, so we can see the difference between the CNC and scroll saw results.

Here’s what’s on the program:
  • 6:00 pm: Potluck dinner and feasting (yes, lately the potlucks really have been worthy of being called “feasts!”) with your fellow woodworkers.
  • Update on planning of the Sketch-Up workshop that will taught by Phillip Pontillo of Whitefish, Montana.
  • Demonstration by Leonard on the CNC machine.

Leonard and Carol will provide the main dish — bbq pulled pork sandwiches and coleslaw. Please bring a potluck side dish to share and maybe a beverage. If you are super busy — or if you are new to the guild and just checking us out — don’t worry about bringing a dish. There is always enough food!

Before the evening’s program, we have a little business to cover, but mostly our meeting will be about the usual great camaraderie, great food and useful tips on working with wood.

Meeting Details:

  • Date: Monday, March 3rd
  • Time: 6:00 pm to around 8:00 ish
  • Where: 7725 N. Meadow Rd, Helena. (click here to go to a detailed google map. Zoom out to see Helena on the map.) Written directions are at the very bottom of this post.
  • Please Bring: side dish or dessert. Also a beverage to share
  • Also bring: a friend who might be interested in joining, or who just wants to check us out!
  • Leonard’s Phone Number: 461-4592

Gallery of Leonard’s Clocks: 

Please join us and as always, please bring a friend who might be interested in woodworking in any way shape or form — even if they are just thinking about getting into woodworking as a hobby or career. Anyone can join us for a meeting or two before deciding if they want to become a member.

Directions to Leonard’s shop at 7725 North Meadow Road:

Go north, past Bob’s Valley Market on N. Montana.  Third street on the right is Ropers Loop, turn right.  Then immediately turn left into his driveway.  The first building on the right is the woodshop.  In case their is any confusion, this building is labeled “Woodshop.”