25 years turning wood in western Sydney

Picture: Geoff Jones

Picture: Geoff Jones

From humble beginnings in members’ garages and later a room at St Clair High School, the Western Sydney Woodturners will reach the milestone of 25 years on Sunday.

The largest club of its kind in Sydney with about 150 members on the books, president Rob Young said the ancient craft was still alive and well in western Sydney.

A swathe of different items are regularly crafted, from pepper grinders to lazy susans, clocks, potpourri bowls, wooden pens, spinning tops, cheese boards, cutting boards, salad servers, honey dippers and a huge variety of bowls, vases and other vessels.

Picture: Geoff Jones.

Picture: Geoff Jones.

‘‘The club’s roaring ahead. We’re getting new members, we even have classes for people who want to learn,’’ said Mr Young, 72, of North Rocks.

‘‘We’ve got 23 varying sized wood turning lathes in the club, we have two bandsaws for cutting timber to size and we’ve got about two drill presses,’’ he said.

Treasurer Ken Vodden, 63, of Blacktown, described the use of lathes as an ancient tradition, with ‘‘turned’’ bowls even uncovered in Egyptian tombs.

‘‘It’s a very ancient machine, one of the earliest developed by man,’’ said the retired cabinetmaker.

GALLERY: 25 years turning wood, by Geoff Jones.

‘‘Wood is a beautiful medium to work in... We keep the craft going in days when there are a lot of crafts disappearing.’’

To help do so, he said the club teams up with western Sydney high schools, ‘‘to teach the younger ones’’ who are interested in the craft, including Blacktown’s Mitchell High School.

The not-for-profit club’s charity of choice is the children’s ward at Mt Druitt hospital, with more than $7,000 donated last year and $10,000 the year before.

‘‘All the members make little bowls and polish them up and we sell them for $10 at our events,’’ said Mr Young. ‘‘Each year we ask the children’s ward for a wish list of equipment they’d like to buy.’’

Previous years’ purchases have included electric thermometers, breast pumps and a machine to lift larger children in and out of beds and baths.

Although the 25-year anniversary will be marked at an invite-only event at the club’s Lalor Park headquarters, the woodturners will showcase their craft to the public at the Parramatta & District Historical Society’s spring fair at Hambledon Cottage on September 20.

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