Saturday, April 21, 2018

Chattahoochee Woodturners Forms Partnership with Eagle Ranch

eagleranchwesjones1In 2015, the Chattahoochee Woodturners (CW) of Gainesville, Georgia, formed a partnership with Eagle Ranch, a school and home for boys and girls whose lives and families are in crisis. Using an Educational Opportunity Grant from the AAW and other donations, CW built a woodturning studio on campus with four mini-lathes, a grinder, a bandsaw, and a drill press. Many local woodturners and suppliers generously donated tools and equipment for the studio.

A classroom would be useless without instructors, so the members of CW committed to teaching an exploratory woodturning class once a week. The first class was held in August 2015, and since then the offering has proven to be one of the most popular exploratory electives at the school. Our partnership is thriving.

Class time is short, just seventy minutes, so sessions are intense with little time for demonstrations. The method we have developed is to have one instructor per student with close supervision to "learn as you turn." So far, ten different members of CW have served as instructors, with a different lead instructor each quarter so that no one begins to feel burned out.

eagleranchwesjones2In the first quarter (twelve classes), the students made beads and coves, a spinning top, an egg, a snowman with arms and hat, a whistle, a keychain, a bud vase, a Christmas ornament, two different pens, and a small bowl. Our goal was to have simple projects the students could complete in one session and take home with them. Their pride in showing off to their friends what they made in woodturning class quickly generated a lot of interest in the program.

While the Eagle Ranch studio was being built and, later, as the classes were in progress, the rest of our chapter members were also busy. They were turning items to sell at the annual Marketplace craft show in November. Hundreds of items from small ornaments to large bowls and platters were completed and donated. After paying expenses, CW members raised close to $4,000 for Eagle Ranch.

The Eagle Ranch project has brought our chapter members closer together, and our membership increased by about 10% Members of the Chattahoochee Woodturners, ready to teach at Eagle Ranch in Flowery Branch, Georgia. Custom lathe stands were made with the Eagle Ranch and Chattahoochee Woodturners logos engraved.

Wes Jones talks to a student about the finer points of roughing down a workpiece. The woodturning classes have been among the most popular electives at Eagle Ranch. in 2015. At Eagle Ranch, the students and staff have been exposed to the joy and satisfaction of creating something with their own hands. We think this partnership is a win-win for everyone.

Photos by sJackson Photography.

Written by: Wes Jones

Published in the AAW American Woodturner magazine.

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