A Visit to the Kansas City Turning Club
by Curtis Turner
Round Rock, TX
Note: Click on any picture to see a larger version.
I recently had the opportunity to return to Kansas City for a woodworking event. I know, you might not think of Kansas City as a hot spot for woodworkers. However, you might be surprised to learn that the Woodturning and Woodworking clubs are extremely active. The woodworker's club boasts a membership base of over 300 and the turning club membership exceeds 120. The clubs share an amazing shop space that would be the envy of most clubs. The club is a non-profit chapter of The American Association of Woodturners and serves woodturners in the Kansas City (KS & MO) area. The club website can be found here:
I had the good fortune to tour the turning club shop and chat with a few club members while I was in town.
Highlights from the tour
The turning space (see above) is well lit and climate controlled. The club owns a good selection of lathes (11 to be exact) which range from a Powermatic 3520B, large and small Jet lathes, to a Vicmarc (see below). They also have a drill press, band saw, a selection of chucks, faceplates and other accessories.
The shop was stocked with a selection of logs from a variety of species. For example, a club member had recently delivered a good supply of green ash.
The club uses AV equipment to display demonstrations on multiple large flat panel monitors. This allows for up close viewing for the entire audience.
While touring the shop, I had a chance to talk to a few members I had met the year before. I enjoyed watching David Alexander turn a beautiful bowl:
This particular piece of soft maple had a large bark inclusion. The defect resulted in a hole in the bowl. David's skillful turning used the natural defect as an artistic element creating an attractive piece.
I also watched Anthony Harris (above) turn a part for a tobacco pipe. Anthony crafts unique double chamber pipes with amazing grain patterns:
These off axis turnings are quite beautiful.
Anthony is also well known for hand chasing threads
like those found in this small box.
More information about Anthony and his work can be found at
About 4 years ago, I had admired a club member's turned awl. The next day, he gave me a kit similar to his own. I was quite surprised by his generosity. However, I soon realized the kit wouldn't make it through TSA screening. So, I sent the kit to Maine in a co-worker's checked baggage. A few months later the kit was mailed from Maine to me in Texas. I then turned a wood handle that complemented this kit (see below). It now proudly hangs just above my workbench. Thanks Jerry!
By now it is no surprise to me that woodworkers and woodturners are a friendly bunch. Kansas was no exception.
Curtis was the 2012 President of
Central Texas Woodturners
, a member of the
American Association of Woodturners
, and a member of
Fine Woodworkers of Austin
. Curtis teaches and demonstrates nationally for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. He also owns a studio where he teaches and works. Curtis lives and works in Central Texas with his wife and four young children. Take a look at his website at