Chapter: Central Oklahoma Woodturners
Founded: November 23, 1987
Chapter Anniversary Profiles:
Central Oklahoma Woodturners (COWA)
Area served: Oklahoma City
First President: Alan Lacer
Current President’s name: Wayne Furr
Date founded: 11-23-1987
What motivated the founders to start a chapter?
In the mid 1980’s Paxton’s Lumber store in Oklahoma City had a woodworking association which met on a monthly basis for their hobby patrons. While attending these meetings and visiting with other members it became apparent that a small number were interested in woodturning and desired advice as well as hands-on instructions. Additional discussion and investigation pointed to Alan Lacer as one of the more knowledgeable turners in the area. Alan was also teaching classes at the Moore-Norman Technology Center. With guidance from Alan and encouragement from the recently formed American Association of Woodturners (AAW) the small group started meeting at various members’ shops on a regular basis every two months. The group’s activities not only included turning but they started to establish the Central Oklahoma Woodturning Association.
How many joined the new chapter?
Who were the founders?
Alan Lacer, President; Bill Hull, Vice-President; Bill Porterfield, Secretary; Robert (Bob) Knox. Treasurer; Bob Jarrett, Editor; Matthew Hill; Larry Slief; and John Sullivan.
Where did the first group meet?
Sometimes in someone’s shop and at Paxton’s Lumber
How much were the dues?
$12 per year
Are there any original members still involved with the chapter?
Bob Jarrett and Bill Hull
What are some of the favorite memories of the chapter?
For many years, the Central Oklahoma Woodturners Association (COWA) has been invited to provide woodturning demonstrations at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City. We have also demonstrated at various craft fairs including the Oklahoma City Arts Festival. The most enjoyable has been turning tops for the children at several venues. COWA has turned tops at the Our Kids World Family Fun Fest. At this event, COWA members set up their lathes and turned tops for three days. There were 12 lathe stations with at least 15 kids in front of each lathe watching and waiting to get their special top. COWA has also been part of the Choctaw Land Run, now known as the Frontier Days Festival, turning tops for the kids. We now have the club’s eight lathes going for the two days with thousands of kids enjoying the turning and being able to choose the colors for their tops.
What are some of the milestones of the chapter?
In the early years, the meetings were held every two months. We now have meetings every month of the year, with a Christmas party and sometimes even a spring or summer picnic.
Like many clubs, we had a show and tell at every meeting. When this started to interfere with the demonstrations, President Joe Millsap started to have the show and tell every quarter. Now, it is not uncommon to have 80 pieces shown during the quarterly show and tell. This is one of COWA’s most successful meetings because every member, regardless of skill level, is encouraged to show their work.
Our first bring-back program is coupled with the show and tell night. The program was originally started by Gary Roberts when he came to demonstrate and donated the demonstration piece. Instead of only one or two pieces, it is not uncommon to have 30-50 pieces in the bring-back. We were able to accomplish this when several members donated pieces to increase the numbers.
A major milestone for our chapter was going from eight members to around 120. This can be attributed to the great facilities of Oklahoma City’s Metro Technology Center. The auditorium where we meet is elevated and classroom-style with padded seats and a desk in front of each seat. The Technology Center has just updated their AV system with two giant screens and projectors and a 72” monitor for the demonstrator or speaker to also view what the audience is viewing.
COWA established a “sister club” with Cheam Woodturners Association in England. Instead of calling it a sister club, Cheam refers to it as “twinned.” We share newsletters and have exchanged wood and turned items. We also get a chance to meet the members attending at the AAW symposium.
One of our members is an arborist who brings in a pickup load of wood to every meeting.
COWA has a mentoring program for members who need a little help with special projects and especially new members wanting help in getting started.
COWA developed a series of woodturning classes with the Moore-Norman Technology Center. We furnish eight lathes, a lead instructor, and an assistant instructor for each student.
How has the AAW affiliation affected the chapter?
In the beginning and for several years, the chapter insurance furnished by AAW has allowed for more chapter members who were AAW members to demonstrate at our various functions.
COWA has also received three or four EOG grants to assist in our educational programs. The grants have helped COWA with purchasing lathes, quality turning tools for each lathe, and audio visual equipment to record each demonstration. One of the grants was to help the Mustang Middle and High School woodshop programs where we demonstrated for several years.
The calendar of events on the AAW website is a great help to see what is happening in the region.
The various AAW publications have also been a big help in our training classes.
~ Submitted by Wayne Furr
In the thirty weeks leading up to AAW's 30th Anniversary Symposium in Atlanta, we will be sharing the stories of members and chapters who joined in 1986 and are still with us today. We hope you enjoy their memories and insights!
- Click here to view profiles online.
American Association of Woodturners