On Saturday 21st September 1985, 17 people turned up at McQueen’s Caravan Park Eneabba to form a woodturning club.
The Founders from the left: Bob Watkins, Wayne Mulholland, Gerry Vermuellen, Pam McQueen, Tom Carter, Dolly Harrison, Ron Limb, Keith McQueen, Milton Rundle, Pat Thompson, Laurie Lynch, Cyril Jones, Ivor Bridges, Jim Burns, Bill Rosher, Doug Murray, Bob Adams. John Shinnick and Mike Kenny were two of the original members but were not in attendance for the first meeting.
For some 3 years prior to the formation of the Western Australian Woodturners Association Keith McQueen (Founding Member no 1) had been demonstrating woodturning at Regional Tourist Promotions in Perth, as well as conducting woodturning at the McQueen’s Caravan Park, Eneabba. In his contact with other woodturners at these activities, Keith felt there was a need for a Club, for members to be able to exchange ideas on techniques, discuss new innovations, tools and their use, etc. to stimulate design and to improve the quality of finished work.
It was at one of Geraldton’s Tourism Promotions where Keith was demonstrating that Keith spoke with Ivor Bridges (Member no 4) and John Shinnick (Member no 6) about his desire to start a club
After compiling a list of interested people they met in the Caravan Park. He sent out eighty invitations for a woodturning workshop to form a club. On Saturday 21 September 1985, seventeen people turned up.
The Woodturners Association of Western Australia (Inc) started with Keith as President. It was mentioned how great it would be to have fifty members, not realising how quickly it would grow.
(Founding Member no 1)
At a meeting held at John Shinnick’s home in February 1986 the following year forty-four turners turned up. Keith was determined that the Association would be state wide, sharing knowledge. He carried his Tough Lathe to every meeting from Kalbarri to Albany. After serving as President for three years Keith decided to let others guide the Association as membership was now over 200.
Keith’s enthusiasm and desire to see the craft of woodturning grow in this state has been evident since the foundation of the Association. He has continued to explore new ideas, and once having mastered them, has been doing what he has always done – shown others.
We acknowledge his enthusiasm, and his willingness to share his knowledge and skills with all members of the Association. Surely a continuance of the aim he had in seeing the establishment of The Woodturners Association of Western Australia.
Keith proudly received a Life Membership of the Woodturners Association of Western Australia at the Annual General Meeting in September 1992. Keith remained involved with the Association over the years but, sadly, ill health gradually reduced that involvement. Keith was very proud (and rightly so) of how the Association started and the way so many people have helped to make it the success it is today.
Cyril Jones (Member no 3) and one of the original nine that signed the documents for the incorporation of the Association in Eneabba in September 1985.
Cyril spent all his working life with the Water Authority where he was a Senior engineering draftsman in drainage design.
After his retirement in 1987 he went to live in Dunsborough where he built his own home.
Cyril was very active in Boy Scouts, the YMCA and was Senior Circuit Steward in the Applecross Methodist Church for many years.
A man who gave freely of his time to help others.
(Founding Member no 3)
lvor Bridges (Member no 4) was elected to the Committee at the inaugural meeting and continued to serve on the Committee for 6 years.
lvor took on the task of Newsletter Editor shortly after the Association was formed and was responsible for the production of Newsletters from December 1985 through to September 1990. For the following 2 years he continued to support the Association as the Assistant Editor.
lvor was also very involved in the creation of the Association Logo, and to further promote the Association, he constructed a full-size working Treadle Lathe (as in the Logo) which has been displayed and demonstrated at a number of venues.
Ivor worked at Tough Tool Makers and Founders. The company produced tools, gearboxes and many other engineered products and of course the Tough lathe, loved by so many woodturners.
(Founding Member no 4)
Many woodturners came to the company and suggested that there were some features that could be improved. At first, the company tended to ignore these suggestions, feeling that as engineers, they knew better than these amateurs. The well-known persistence of woodturners eventually caused the company to decide one of them should learn something about woodturning.
This is how Ivor came to start turning. As a result of his experience, many improvements were made to the lathe to better suit the wood turners’ requirements. Ivor worked for 23 years at Tough until eventually, the company went out of business.
Ivor was presented with Life Membership in 1993 and we say thank you to him for his valued support and contribution to the success and growth of the Association.
Wooden lathe Ivor made
1870s German drawing
John Shinnick’s (Member no 6) interest in woodturning started when he became an active woodturner at his home, making many items of decorative and practical use.
By diligent application, which was typical of John’s approach to a task, he gradually built up his woodturning skills and began producing a wide range of articles.
It is not surprising therefore, that when John and Keith McQueen became acquainted and discussed woodturning at a time when there was a worldwide awakening in the craft of woodturning, they would have discussed the possibilities of forming an Association to promote the craft in Western Australia.
John could not have foreseen at that time, the spectacular growth of the Association, nor have been aware of the major role he would play in its development. The organisation that was created grew and blossomed on the principles of good fellowship and sharing of skills.
(Founding Member no 6)
John was a Foundation member of the Association and of the Committee. He conducted some two years of workshops with Keith McQueen before the formation of the Association. John was on the first committee for 4 years and served 2 years as Vice President of the Association.
In addition to all these official appointments and activities, John’s wide-ranging interest in the Association led him to visit members in Kalgoorlie, Esperance and Geraldton and in assisting the development of woodturning in those regions.
In March 1986 John had the distinction of being the only member to have hosted an Association Week-end Workshop at their home. With an attendance of some eighty people, this was indeed a remarkable achievement.
John rarely missed attending the Association and Group meetings at many of which he would demonstrate woodturning skills.
He had a natural ability to impart his knowledge to others with great clarity and to encourage them to develop their skills and strive for excellence. In recognition of his great contribution to the Association, John was honoured with life membership in 1995.
Ron Limb (Member no 7) attended the first meeting of the Association in September l985 at McQueen’s Caravan Park Eneabba. He and l7 others (and 9 apologies) decided to incorporate the Association. He is thereby one of our foundation members.
Hi chaps, I greet all “Lathe Loving Lunies”. I am sure our long-suffering wives have names like this for us, perhaps less complimentary. No?? Perhaps it’s not the lathes we love but the glorious products of our lathe-inspired imaginations – the bowls, the goblets, the lamp holders etc. which decorate our shelves. I might as well confess I have now run out of space. I managed to insinuate a few pieces into the lounge where they have uncertain tenure.
Have you ever wondered why no one else, except adoring wifie seem to sufficiently admire our magnificent creations? Now we are in danger of losing even this unstinting adulation as more and more of us invade the kitchen and want to use the microwave just when she is about to use it.
(Founding Member no 7)
I had better get to my theme suggested, I might say, by our worthy editor Ivor. As I began work in an engineering workshop and had been to the old Perth Tech, I always coveted a lathe of my own. I think it was in the early 20’s when Bairds was perhaps the leading hardware shop in Perth. They have some beautiful small metal-turning lathes I would have given anything to have, but I left the trade. Many years later I bought a hobby lathe. It had a bed about 20 inches long. I ground up a couple of carpenters’ chisels and made a couple of poor lampstands. Eventually, I gave it to my son-in-law.
After my retirement, this wood-turning bug began to bite again and I considered a lathe at And’s but $300 seemed a lot to me. Then about three years ago I saw a nice little Taiwanese lathe at Midland Surplus Stores, about $150 plus tax, so I bought it and just managed to carry it out of the shop, motor and all, together with the basic Marple’s chisels. I “cut my teeth” on it if you don’t mind the metaphor. I got two very good books from the Midland Library and my wife bought me a copy of Nish’s “Artistic Turning” and I was in business. I suppose for the most part it wasn’t a bad lathe, except it was meant to work off volts and kept burning out condensers.
So, I began to master the craft. I am still learning, unless you are one of those masterly semi-professionals you will know what I mean. I got far enough along the track to realise that the little “pride of my heart” had its limitations and its aggravations. One day with a 10-inch Jarrah disc I wanted to shape up for a bowl, the lathe jumped so much I couldn’t keep the chisel on the rest. So, I said “That’s it little lathe, you are about to be moved out and I sold it at a slight profit, shopped around, and eventually ended up at Toughs. I might say I didn’t carry it out in one parcel. I borrowed a trailer, and it took Ivor and three other blokes to load it.
Now this is not a “commercial” otherwise I would go into raptures about this beautiful piece of engineering. I must say it is marvelously versatile and splendidly designed. With it came a wonderful bonus, a highly valued friendship with the leading hand, Ivor Bridges.
This is the wonderful thing about being a wood-turner. It introduces you to a circle of maniacs like yourself. You can learn the jargon and be your simple self without being given the “raspberry”.
Last October I made a trip to Kukerin and Lake Grace as they were without a Minister. I am a retired Methodist Minister, and I went to help out. After the service at Lake Grace where I used some of my pieces of woodturning as an object lesson for the children, a little boy said there is a wood turner around the corner. After lunch he took me to his home. We were like long-lost friends. I spent about one and a half hours with him. He showed me his work and I showed him my bits. We were buddies. His work was completely different from mine and mine from his. That is perhaps the best reason for being a “kinky” woodturner.
Milton Rundle (Member no 13) attended the first meeting of the Association in September l985 at McQueen’s Caravan Pork Eneabba. He and l7 others (and 9 apologies) decided to incorporate the Association. He is thereby one of our foundation members. A year later he was elected to the Committee.
From those earliest days his contributions have been constant and dedicated to the furtherance of the Association’s growth and integrity, first by supporting the Secretary and then taking on that very important position, which he held until September 1990. He also carried the position of Treasurer during that time. Milton played an active part in establishing the Association’s Constitution. He was also instrumental in guiding it through to Incorporation.
Milton’s interest in wood grew with his first job as office boy at Millar’s Timber Company in Kalgoorlie. He attended trade apprentice classes at night school for a couple of years learning ‘theory and practical skills in woodworking. At this time, he applied his skills to some “very amateur furniture and toymaking” using the rather less sophisticated hand tools available to him in those days.
(Founding Member no 13)
During a 1983 holiday in New Zealand Milton saw displays of woodturning that really kindled his interest. On his return to Perth, he bought a second-hand Tough lathe and enrolled with TAFE at Vic Park. Soon after he met Keith McQueen at the Royal Show…
Milton’s administrative skills contributed a great deal to the sound establishment of the Association and to the smooth management we all enjoy today. He has been Treasurer since 1986 and was both Secretary and Treasurer in 1988 and 1989. He was closely associated with the two Exhibitions of Excellence promoted by WAWA and with the display as part of the Bi-Centenary Exhibition.
In 1993 Milton received the well-deserved honour of Life membership of the Association. He strongly supports the Association and its objectives and sees its strengths as a great hobby/pastime with weekend workshops giving a great opportunity for learning and for social contact with many partners participating. The willingness of the more skilled members to share their knowledge is another strong feature.
Bob Adams (Member no 14) was first introduced to woodturning by Rod Swallow who had a Tough lathe which he lent to Bob while he was on long service leave. Bob then bought his own lathe and when the first meeting was held at McQueen’s Caravan Pork at Eneabba, he joined as one of the original members and contributed to the establishment of this Association in its formative years.
Bob served on the WAWA Executive Committee for two periods, firstly whilst at Coorow, 1989-1991 and subsequently at Toodyay 1998-2000.
Bob has been a keen supporter of WAWA. Bob was a regular attendee and participant in the weekend workshops. He enjoyed the opportunity to learn new techniques and meet with other people from all walks of life all with a common interest in woodturning.
Bob says that once you join WAWA, you immediately have a wide circle of new friends. Bob always demonstrated a sustained and valuable contribution to the establishment, development, and operation of the Association.
The Association of the Wood Turners of Western Australia Incorporated honoured Bob with Life Membership in 2002, in recognition of his sustained contributions to the Association.
(Founding Member no 14)
Michael Kenny (founding member) tells us that he and his mate John Shinnick used to drive to Eneabba in his ten-year-old Valiant ute for the weekend workshops held there in WAWA’s early days. The workshops were run by Keith McQueen who specialised in turning goblets and greatly inspired him.
Later, at the Yarloop workshops, Michael passed on the skills that he had acquired and taught fellow woodturners how to sharpen their (mainly carbon steel) tools without getting them too hot. This was a technique that he had learned from his father. He also shared his experiences at the Manjimup and Bunbury sheds where he, too, specialised in turning goblets, many of which were given away as gifts after a public demonstration.
Michael’s interest in turning was not confined to goblets, of course, and he sent through a number of pictures of work that he had done over the years, but one item that gave him great pleasure was the round jarrah dining table which still occupies pride of place in his home. He worked on this, on and off, for nearly two years, but going through the grits got to be more than he wished for. After eight long hours with a hired industrial floor sander, and thoughts that he was never going to complete it, he decided to take the whole lot to the Boranup Gallery. The people there finished the sanding, polished the table, and made matching jarrah and leather dining chairs with jarrah burl armrests.
The item which gave him the greatest pleasure, and which he still has, was a freestanding floor lamp that he designed. The design took three weeks. The turning took another 30 hours. After all these years, he is still extremely proud of the outcome.
Ivor Bridges mentions, this group picture was taken in 1989, during a weekend course run to encourage members to become teachers and demonstrators, five teachers and five lathes for each group of pupils had some hours with each teacher, so as to get a wide experience.
Left to right standing: John Croft, Bob Malacarri, Like Lynn, Keith Johnson, John Curry, Gordon Ward, Malcolm France, Brian Adams, John Rule, Gordon Rathcliffe, Neil Basden, John Lathwell, Geoff Barkla, Joe Seat, Alf Valentine, and John Shinnick.
Front row kneeling: Bill Botman, Jim Clarke, Pat Trown, Ken Rex, Ralph Smith, and Ivor Bridges.
More information on a number of these members above and our Founding members can be found under Life Membership or Merit Award Listings on the WAWA website and the Association Newsletters which are also on the WAWA website. Stories of meetings held all over the state are also in the early newsletters. The beginnings of the groups are also mentioned. Interesting reading.
Information in this document are extracts from WAWA newsletters plus memories from a couple of Founding members.
Should you have further information or photos of the Founding members could you provide them to me (Mary Byers email@example.com) for inclusion.