Hands On Woodturners, Inc was founded on October 4, 1999 as a non-profit corporation and a charter member of the American Association of Woodturners. Evolving out of a desire to share woodturning experiences, charter members of the club were Ron Browning, Nick DiMona, Frank Sospenzi, Bob Huss, Alvin Wallace, Ken Jackman, Judy Merkt-Jackman, and Randy Leach. As noted in the original By-Laws of the corporation the purpose of the club was to:
- provide a meeting place for local woodturners
- share ideas and techniques regarding woodturning
- to trade woods
- to exchange ideas about tools
The initial meeting of the club was held at the home of Ken and Judy Jackman. Ken Jackman was elected President, Ron Browning was Vice President, Judy Jackman was Secretary / Treasurer and newsletter editor, Nick DiMona was in charge of the library, and Randy Leach was in charge of the program committee. The first few meetings were held in member’s shops and the host would put on a demonstration. Not long thereafter the venue changed to the Moose Lodge in Dunnellon where it stayed until August 2001. Achieving immediate success, the club continued to grow and as noted in the February, 2001 club newsletter the attendance was 54 people (35 members, 7 family members, and 12 guests). In the Summer of 2001 the Moose Lodge was scheduled for renovation so the club relocated in September, 2001 to the VFW Hall in Beverly Hills.
One of the concepts that evolved in the early days of the club was the idea of having Sawdust Sessions. This is where one member calls another more experienced member and asks for help. They then get together in one of their shops and work on the area that the member needs help with.
With the growth of woodturning clubs throughout Florida, the idea of a Florida Woodturning Symposium (FWS) was inaugurated with Ken Jackman as the chairman. The Hands On Woodturning (HOW) club was a charter member of FWS and contributed to the overall success of the inaugural event in November, 2001. The HOW club supported the FWS with representatives on the board of directors, and by supplying volunteers to help throughout the symposiums weekend. This participation in FWS continues to this day as the FWS has grown in popularity.
At the April, 2000 club meeting president Ron Browning presented pictures of the Stubby lathe the club would like to purchase. Following discussion a motion was made and seconded to purchase the lathe and the motion passed by the members. The lathe was continuously used by the club to support demonstrations presented at each monthly meeting as well as being used to support the Florida Woodturning Symposium. In 2016 a decision was made to sell the lathe and buy a new Jet 1640 which is now being used monthly. At the same time the Stubby lathe was purchased an anonymous supporter provided no interest financing to the club allowing for the purchase of a beautiful trailer to transport the clubs new lathe.
The Hands On Woodturning club continues to support the founding principles of the club. Meetings are held at the Lions Club in Beverly Hills, Florida the third Wednesday of each month and visitors are always welcome. The concept of learning new techniques and passing on existing skills to others is alive and well. Demonstrations by accomplished woodturners at the monthly meetings are always well received and provide a means to explore a wide variety of skills including turning techniques, project design, wood selection, and tool sharpening. If you are not a current member, make it a point to attend one of the meetings. You are liable to find that the craft of woodturning is just what you have been missing.