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Turners Without Borders
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Turners Without Borders (TWB) is an outreach initiative by the AAW Board to broaden links with the wider woodturning world.



The AAW is the largest woodturning organization in the world.


International members, in 36 countries, account for approximately 10% of AAW’s members. The reason for our strong global presence is simple - the AAW is the best link into the wider world of turning.


The AAW’s website is a valuable hub for those outside of the USA, and many visit to see how things are done in the land where much of the modern turning revival began. International members bring their unique vision and experiences which complement the understanding of what turning can be.


Turners Without Borders (TWB), a program of the AAW for three years, has accomplished many fascinating initiatives.  We are excited about the connections and exploring possibilities for TWB with groups of woodturners outside the U.S.


TWB Lathe Plans


Honduras Project - May 2016

Turners Without Borders partnered with a nonprofit known as GreenWood to help wood artisans in Honduras learn to turn hardwood mallets. This collaboration set up an ongoing partnership with GreenWood and may serve as a model for future projects. A generous donation from Dale Larson helped make the project possible. Scott Lewis (see Dominican Republic Project, below) brought one of his pedal-powered lathes to Honduras to lead the teaching. He was joined by Manuel Suarez, an AAW volunteer from Rockville, Md., who has traveled to Honduras several times on behalf of a healthcare nonprofit. Working with local GreenWood staff, Lewis and Suarez assembled the lathe and trucked it to the village of Las Champas. There, they spent five days teaching and testing a half-dozen local woods. They then spent two days teaching in El Carbon, a community of Pech Indians who make Appalachian-style furniture. Scott Landis, the head of GreenWood, says, “The students were attentive and involved, and we identified some real talent.” For his part, Suarez says, “The experience has been very positive. The students were anxious to learn, thankful for our efforts to help them, and delighted with Scotty’s lathe.” TWB is discussing ways to help GreenWood further as it moves to full-scale mallet production.


The students in Las Champas, with Scott Lewis’s lathe and some of the bowls and mallets they produced.


 World Wood Day – March 2016

Continuing with what has become a tradition, international woodturners were invited by International Wood Culture Society to participate in the 2016 World Wood Day celebrations in Kathmandu, Nepal, March 20 - 25. Eli Avisera (Israel), Joss Naigeon (France), Hassan El Farissi (Morocco), Andy Chen (USA), and a local turner, Bajra Bahadur Shilpakar, demonstrated on two electric midi lathes and a human-powered lathe, designed by Scott Lewis (as seen below on this page). In addition, two AAW members, Jacques Vesery and Ken Ledeen, participated as woodcarvers in a collaborative project, Brick by Brick. We greatly appreciate the in-kind support from Robust Tools and Chucks Plus.

Andy Chen turning a spin top on the bike-powered lathe as Hassan El Farissi pedals. (Photo courtesy of IWCS.)
Crowd admiring Eli Avisera’s fine work. (Photo courtesy of IWCS.)

Eli Avisera trying to turn on Hassan El Farissi’s manual lathe as Hassan watches on. (Photo courtesy of IWCS.)
The international turning team posting with staff, (L to R) Hassan El Farissi, Eli Avisera, Bajra Bahadur Shilpakar, student volunteer, Andy Chen, Joss Naigeon, Ju Liu (IWCS coordinator) and two more volunteers. (Photo courtesy of IWCS.)


Eli Avisera turns a tiny spin top with Joss Naigeon providing the power as a large crowd watches on. (Photo by Andy Chen.)
Joss Naigeon planting a tree with a friend. (Photo courtesy of IWCS.)

(Video courtesy of IWCS.)



November 2015

On behalf of TWB Andy Chen was invited by the IWCS to demonstrate at the 6th China - Association of Southeast Asian Nations wood culture forum in the southern Chinese city of Nanning, November 19-23.  Activities included trade show (furniture, woodworking machinery, etc.) academic discussions, student furniture-building competition and woodturning demonstration. Another woodturner from China and Andy demoed both spindle and bowl turning on a Vicmarc VL150 lathe. Two Chinese woodturners from Shawo, Hebei Province, one of them being 84 years old, demonstrated on a traditional Chinese bowl lathe.

Eighty-four-year old Master Cheng demonstrating turning bowls on a traditional wooden lathe, attracting an enthusiastic crowd.
 Andy Chen finishing a spin top for the audience.

Immediately after the Nanning demo Andy went to Wenzhou to teach a shop teacher how to do faceplate turning as a part of a TWB program initiated by Terry Martin.  AAW/TWB and IWCS had signed an agreement to help establish a woodturning program at the Wenzhou Special Education School.  Five AAW members went to the school with tools in March 2014 after the World Wood Day celebrations to establish the program.  Ernie Newman spent two weeks teaching shop teacher Mr Zhu turning fundamentals and spindle turning in October 2014 and Terry Martin taught him bowl turning in November, 2014.  Mr Zhu desired to learn more about faceplate turning.  Andy spent three days there showing him faceplate turning and how to sharpen bowl gouges.  The school is committed to the wood turning program.  They just purchased a new midi lathe that arrived on the last day Andy was there.

Shop teacher Mr. Zhu finishing the bottom of a bowl.
Andy Chen showing Mr. Zhu different grinds on a bowl gouge.




World Wood Day - March 2015

In March, six AAW members were invited to participate in the World Wood Day 2015 celebrations in Eskişehir and Istanbul, Turkey. Kathleen Duncan, Michael Gibson, Derek Weidman, and Andy Chen, demonstrated woodturning, and Cynthia Gibson demonstrated pyrography. Jacques Vesery functioned in the capacity of a wood carver/sculptor and was the organizer of a collaborative project that involved 23 wood artists from 17 countries. The in-kind support from Jet Tools and the Woodturning Store is greatly appreciated.



Woodturners at the WWD 2015 (L - R), Adnan Güçlü (local), Andy Chen, Kathleen Duncan, Michael Gibson and Derek Weidman (not pictured local turner, Kenan Çiçek).
Kathleen demonstrating turning a spin top.

Michael demonstrating turning a bowl.
Derek demonstrating turning a heart.

The collaborative project, Bridge, lead by Jacques. The inset shows the details of one of the many carvings on the Bridge.
Cynthia being visited by the mayor of Şişli, Istanbul, Hayri İnönü while doing a pyrography demo. The inset shows a mask that was carved by a Guatemalan carver, Luis Yat and burned and colored by Cynthia.




 AAW in Puerto Rico

In November 2014, Carmen De La Paz organized and led a four-day workshop at the Puerto Rico Artisan Festival. The objectives of this initiative were to build woodturning capacity in Puerto Rico and to ensure sustainability by establishing an AAW chapter and working with this chapter to build long-term woodturning capacity in Puerto Rico.

With the help of two AAW members, Gualberto (Gil) Malave and Lee Sky, Carmen trained 12 students. Lathes and tools were donated by the AAW, with the participation of its commercial partners.

In April 2015, Carmen helped organize the first AAW’s Puerto Rico chapter meeting with over 100 people attending. In addition, she held demonstrations and hands-on training at two locations in Puerto Rico which were met with overwhelming enthusiasm. These successful events are very promising for the future of the AAW in Puerto Rico.



 The enclosed teaching space where the crowd could watch the full teaching process. Lee Sky, a Florida woodturner, teaches chisel sharpening as Carmen De La Paz interprets to Spanish.


Francisco Rosario Morales, the oldest woodturner in Puerto Rico at age 93, came to visit and had to get behind the lathe. As he left he told Carmen, "I can't wait to get back to my shop and make a natural-edged bowl. I learned something here today."
Happy faces of the Puerto Rico project, including 13 participants, instructors Carmen De La Paz, Gualberto Malave and Lee Sky and the Puerto Rico team. Other significant people, Milagros Solis Ocasio (Director Puerto Rico Division of Artesinal Development: Fomento, Puerto Rico, front center); Zulma Santiago (Director FERIN ART PR, Consultores Santiago, second row, right).


October 2014

In October 2014, Ernie Newman visited Wenzhou Special School in China to follow up on the work that was started by the AAW team in March. His visit was jointly sponsored by AAW through the TWB program, and the International Wood Culture Society. Ernie received a wonderful welcome and spent two weeks training the woodshop teacher Mr. Zhu how to turn, and to teach turning to the students.
The video below presents the highlights of the TWB/IWCS  joint Wenzhou initiative and shows Ernie in action!



Ernie surrounded by eager students. In Ernie’s words, “The children were funny, helpful, and easy to help.”
Ernie showing Shi Cheng Zhu how to turn a finial. Ernie said, “I think he could become a great teacher and a great turner.”

Students watching Mr. Zhu turn a top.
Decorating tops. Ernie’s local club, The Blue Mountain Woodturners in Australia, made 150 tops for the students to decorate.

Wenzhou student, Hong Li Zhen, surrounded by tops.


March 2014

TWB woodturning activities at the March 2014 World Wood Day celebration in Xianyou, Fujian Province, China.






Special Education School in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, China.








AAW was represented by five members who demonstrated at World Wood Day sponsored by the International Wood Culture Society (IWCS) in Xianyou City, China.


The AAW team and friends at World Wood Day in China. It was a particular pleasure to be joined by the traditional turners from Shawo village. L-R Rear: Victor Verecchia (Vicmarc Machinery, sponsor), Su Jinling (IWCS), Cheng Jinqing, Li Jiafang (Shawo village), Mike Hou (IWCS), Terry Martin (AAW Australia), Theo Haralampou (AAW Australia).  Front: Li Xuemin (Shawo village), Andrew Chen (USA - AAW), Adam Doran (AAW- Ireland), Bonnie Klein (AAW- USA)
  The Chinese love to watch turners at work. Andy Chen delighted the children by turning tops, then had to decide who to give them to. 
73-year-old Li Jiagang turns captive rings on his bow lathe, but he was delighted to see Bonnie turn five captive rings on a goblet stem. When she gave him the goblet he kissed her on the cheek and blushed like a boy.   22-year-old Adam Doran, the youngest member of the AAW team, is shown how to turn on a traditional pedal lathe by the oldest turner there, Cheng Jinqing who is 85. Neither of them will ever forget this moment.

Wenzhou Special School

After Terry Martin’s visit to Wenzhou Special School last year, AAW and IWCS agreed to sponsor a woodturning program for the hearing-impaired children. Vicmarc Machinery donated a lathe, Tormek donated a sharpening system, and The Woodturning Store donated tools, so the school is now set up to develop a long-term sustainable program. Special thanks to Victor Verecchia, Hakan Person, and Steve Fulgoni for their generous support of this wonderful cause. After World Wood Day, the AAW turning team went to Wenzhou to demonstrate and to train the woodshop teachers to turn. Everyone agrees it was the highlight of their visit to China. This program will continue and volunteer teachers will visit again later this year to train the school staff.

Theo Haralampou shows one of the woodshop teachers at Wenzhou Special School basic spindle turning.   The Principal of the school, Mr Li, and the students appreciate Bonnie’s work.
AAW member Zina Burloiu of Romania is a traditional chip carver and a turner. She was also in Wenzhou to teach the students and here she watches one of the students practicing. There were many peaceful moments like this between the visiting teachers and the children.
  Jacques Vesery also demonstrated his unique wood art to the children. They watched for hours with intense concentration.

Beijing Forestry University

After Wenzhou, some of the team moved to Beijing where they demonstrated for the wood design students and others. They worked under leafy shade in a beautiful plaza with superb weather every day.
 The faces say it all – woodturning is a great way to make friends.

Dominican Republic Project

In early 2014, Betty Scarpino introduced Scotty Lewis to the TWB program. Scotty is studying at Queens University in Canada and for his Practicum he gathered a team of three future teachers to develop a human-powered lathe made in wood. After extensive research and development they created a pedal-powered lathe that can be disassembled for transport. In March, two of the team traveled to the Dominican Republic to share their lathe and skills with the children at the Alpha Education Center. The TWB committee agreed that this project was a perfect fit for our program and we decided to sponsor Scotty and his team. We were able to supply tools from the AAW Tool Bank and some financial support. Scotty has agreed to make the plans for his lathe available for future TWB projects.

Lathe Plans
Click here to see the measured drawings (feet/inches)    Click here to see the measured drawings (metric) 
The lathe in action   Scotty teaches the children at the Alpha Education Center.
A happy young turner!



November 2013


Terry Martin returns to China to represent AAW in Nanning, China, at an ASEAN region carving event.

Mike Hou (IWCS Executive Director) and Terry Martin   Terry and IWCS staff visit the Wenzhou Special School in China. The AAW is partnering with IWCS to set up a woodturning program for deaf children.
Mike Hou (IWCS Executive Director) and
Terry Martin.
  Terry and IWCS staff visit the Wenzhou Special School in China. The AAW is partnering IWCS to set up a woodturning program for the deaf children.


October 2013

Andi Wolfe represents AAW at an IWCS conference in Changsha, China, presenting a paper on wood usage and demonstrating turning.


Andi Wolfe demonstrating
      Andi shows local students how to explore woodturning.
Andi shows local students how to explore woodturning.



June 2013

At the AAW symposium in Tampa, John Jordan, Avelino Samuel, Billy Griffin, and Su Jinling spoke on a panel about woodturning activities abroad. Billy discussed his experiences teaching woodturning in Haiti.
Billy Griffin’s students in Haiti take turns to work on the only lathe they have.       Billy with his students who are holding the pieces they have made.

The IWCS was represented in Tampa by Mike Hou, Su Jinling, and a 3-person film crew. They extensively recorded and interviewed participants. See the video below.

At the Tampa symposium, many generous members donated tools to the newly created TWB Tool Bank. These tools will be used to help with programs like the one Billy Griffin is running in Haiti.

The IWCS video crew with Cynthia
and Michael Gibson.

Phil McDonald (AAW Executive Director)
and Billy Griffin sort the tools
donated to the Tool Bank.


May 2013

In May, 21 wood artists gathered in County Carlow to create an installation called "Improvisations on the Theme of an Irish Wall." Seventeen of the artists are woodturners and most are AAW members, although this project was designed to challenge them to try work beyond the lathe. TWB assisted this project by introducing a private sponsor who subsidized travel to the event by U.S. wood artists. IWCS sponsored the participation of Mr. Wang and the video crew who produced this record of the event.



April 2013

  • While he was attending Turnfest in Australia, Dale Larson visited the Woodturners Association of Queensland, one of the oldest chapters of the AAW.
  • Once again, Terry Martin represented the AAW in China when he traveled to Beijing to demonstrate woodturning. This time he showed his techniques to a gathering of professional Chinese turners.
  • Terry also visited Shawo village in China, where he met many traditional turners who showed him the way people in their village have turned for hundreds of years. Terry will be writing about this visit for "American Woodturner."

Dale Larson, AAW President (center), with members of the Woodturners Society of Queensland.

Terry with the turners who watched his demonstration. Second from left is Su Jinling of IWCS, who organized this visit and offered her home as the venue.

Terry with the turners of Shawo village.


March 2013

Avelino Samuel demonstrating at the
IWCS World Wood Day in Tanzania.
Avelino Samuel demonstrated in Tanzania as a representative of the AAW at the World Wood Day, organized by the International Wood Culture Society (IWCS). This event raised public awareness about the importance and value of wood as a renewable resource. The inclusion of woodturning as part of the event was a new development for the AAW and one that should lead to even more rewarding activities.











If you believe you have something to offer TWB, please contact Louis Vadeboncoeur.

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