San Diego woodturner Brian Saunders has worked for several years with programs that teach veterans the art of woodturning, so when Brian won a mini lathe donated by Woodcraft at the Penturner's Rendezvous it seemed logical to give it to a veteran.
"My wife Pat and I each have a midi lathe that we use extensively and a larger lathe that we share," Brian said. "Because we already have three lathes, I have donated the Rikon lathe to a veteran who has participated in the Turn Around Vets Program and who plans to continue in woodturning. Many have told us woodturning has made a huge difference in their lives—their injuries seem diminished and while turning the ugly memories don't intrude."
The Penturner's Rendezvous, organized by The Pen Maker's Guild, is held the evening before the Utah Woodturning Symposium opens in Provo, Utah – May 11 this year. "The Rendezvous was started 14 plus years ago as a ‘meetup' of the penturners who attend the symposium," Guild member Kurt Hertzog said. "It was a way to meet those you visited with over the Internet yet rarely met. Anyone is welcome to attend the event for free and display their works if they want to. However, only those who display are eligible for the Woodcraft Grand Prize drawing held at the end of the evening."
Brian said he and his wife Pat began turning in 2009 and joined the San Diego Woodturners (SDWT) Club the same year. In addition to the monthly demos by talented members and internationally known guest turners, mentoring programs, and skill-building classes, Brian said The San Diego Woodturners (SDWT) also sponsor three programs that help veterans recover from injuries.
"Turn Around for Vets helps injured military service members and those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," Brian said. "SDWT volunteers started teaching pen turning to service members at Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego as they recuperated from their injuries. The woodturning program was later expanded to Camp Pendleton's Wounded Warrior Battalion to work with Marines and Naval Corpsmen who are recovering from their injuries. The Veterans Administration also asked the SDWT to expand the club's program to include the Aspire Rehabilitation Center for veterans suffering from PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injuries when it opened. At all three locations, we provide the equipment, materials, teaching and supervision to make sure all learn to turn and, most importantly, to be safe while doing it. Many have now expanded from pen turning to other turnings—bowls, boxes, vases, etc., and our members teach and monitor these activities."
Brian said about 50 members of SDWT are actively involved in the Turn Around for Vets project, and he and Pat and have volunteered at the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton and at the Aspire Center for several years.
Since 2010, Brian and Pat have been attending the Utah Woodturning Symposium and the Penturner's Rendezvous.
"Some of us display our pen work and let the other Rendezvous attendees handle our pens and ask questions," Brian explained. "We compare techniques and exchange advice and suggestions. The newer pen turners learn a lot by just seeing the pens and asking the experienced turners questions such as, ‘How did you do that?' and ‘What did you use?' It's a lot less intimidating than asking the questions in front of a hundred people. The ability to see and touch the pens and question the turners in such an informal setting seems to lead to more open discussions and exchange of knowledge."
The one-on-one educational aspect of the Penturner's Rendezvous is what prompted Woodcraft to sponsor the Penturner's Rendezvous Grand Prize for the past few years.
"Providing educational opportunities for woodworkers, such as the informal exchange of information at the Penturner's Rendezvous, is part of the Woodcraft mission," Liz Matheny, Woodcraft director of marketing, said. "The more a woodworker can learn, whether it is from peers, the formal woodworking classes that Woodcraft stores offer, or from events like the Rendezvous, the more that woodworker will advance his or her craft and find joy in the process."
For more information about the Penturner's Rendezvous, visit https://utahwoodturning.com/penturners-rendezvous/. To learn more about the San Diego Woodturners, visit http://www.sdwt.org.