Woodworkers Club of Houston

March 2015 Projects



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Steve Wavro, a long-time member of WWCH and Club Secretary, spoke to club members about his intarsia skills.  Steve is well known in the club for his works in the field of intarsia and has shown many examples of his artistic talents in monthly Shown 'n Tell sessions.  Steve was also voted Woodworker of the Year for 2006 and 2012. Examples of Steve's work are shown above.  Steve started out by addressing sources of patterns which give suggestions for direction of grain as well as wood color.....read more



  Larry Barron showed some of his work. The sign is out of redwood because it will last and last.  Larry advised that you should use a dust mask. Larry used India Ink for staining however he painted the sign as it will be exposed to the weather.


This fascinating patterned jewelry box (unfinished) was crafted by Lynn Cummings for his son’s girlfriend who he will someday wed.


This charming knife holder of tulip wood and other woods was crafted by Peter Doe. 


Glenn Edwards crafted this cross from a Bobby Riggs scroll saw design.


John Gay showed Club members two walnut handled pizza cutters; one for his niece which came with an ice cream scoop and one for his nephew which came with a bottle opener – and not just for pop bottles.  John observed that when the shellac and the cloth gets hot when turning on the lathe, the wooden handles become shiny.


This bi-plane shelf of poplar is a gift made by Bill Hoffmeister for his youngest grandson.


David Janowitz was messing around on his lathe and came up with some bowls of Osage orange.  One includes sapwood and, hence, double colors, and another has an area of water damage.

This live edge table, also of Osage orange was finished with Sherwin Williams clear marine grade polyurethane.  David was unhappy with other UV protected varnishes as they imparted an amber tone.


This exercise block was expertly crafted by Andy Anderson.  The instructions are simple.  Bend over to place block on the floor.  Walk around it three times.  Bend down and pick up the block.  You have now walked around the block three times.


Chuck Lickwar crafted these chip bowls for upcoming weddings and made them look like they were made of redwood.  Chuck made the Ohio State bowl for Gary Rowen who had commissioned Chuck for one with the Ohio State colors to be a gift for his son-in-law (who is from Ohio).  However, Chuck felt that Gary didn’t receive enough recognition for his work as webmaster so he gifted the Ohio State bowl to Gary.  Gary expressed his gratitude as he accepted the gift.

Chuck Meeder crafted this wedding plaque for his nephew who is getting married in April.  He obtained the fonts from Microsoft.  For his grandson Chuck made this sliding bookend of cherry, however, the center strip is “mystery” wood.   Chuck stated that he made another one of exotic wood and it isn’t going anywhere.

Hank Merry likes to make animated toys so he crafted this pull-toy monkey.

This bookstand of walnut by Greg Meyer was inspired by one crafted by Roy Underhill.  Greg explained how he used his chisel to make the bookstand from one board.

Norm Nichols used pine and oak plywood to construct this carnival game for Easter activities.  It is called a rainbow roll (someone else will paint the game).    You roll a golf ball down the corridor with the objective of rolling two balls into slots of the same color. It isn’t easy as Norm demonstrated. 

Fred Sandoval grunted a little while holding up his Moxon vice  made of maple.  These vices are greawt for securing wide boards firm while hand cutting dovetails.

A gorgeous scroll sawed eagle by Rick Spacek with some painted paper behind it to help it stand out.  Rick used acrylic stains followed by sprayed clear acrylic.  The smaller eagle is made of spalted pecan.

Crediting Bob Wink as the source of the wood, Patrick Waters demonstrates a drum that was made by a student of his at the TX/RX Labs.

     Bob Wink showed various styles of lamps that he crafted.  The designs are inspired by Greene & Greene out of California (G&G did lots of bungalows), Frank Lloyd Wright, and a wooden version of one hanging in a tavern in England (as seen on the Antique Road Show).

A downed tree in Lon Kelley’s neighborhood was the source of wood for these bowls.  Lon placed them in a plastic bag and let it sit for a year or so.  Lon showed photos of what it looked like when he removed them from the bag.  They were all really wet and split.  Lon salvaged them by cutting in half to cut the crack out then glued back together with polyurethane glue – you can still see the crack which is better than throwing it away.  Lon also had to use some polyurethane glue and epoxy to fill cracks.

Steve Wavro, a long-time member of WWCH, spoke to club members about his intarsia skills.  Steve started out by addressing sources of patterns which give suggestions for direction of grain as well as wood color. Study the pattern for changes you might want to make.  Steve suggests enlarging small drawings because small pieces are harder to manage and makes the cutting harder.  Typical patterns go for 8 to 10 dollars and can also be obtained from magazines.  You’ll probably need to make six to eight copies before getting started.  Artists have no problem with this as long as it is for personal use.

Steve talked about wood sources.  His favorite wood to start with is western red cedar.  It is inexpensive, easy to come by and cuts well.  You can also find a wide range of colors from light to very dark brown.  With four or five different boards you can get really striking contrast.  Purple heart, yellow heart and poplar are more expensive, but are also good woods to use because they add more colors to a project.

When applying the pattern he uses Elmer’s spray glue or 3M Super 7 but each tends to leave a sticky residue which is sometimes hard to get off.  It can be removed with mineral spirits but it is time consuming.  Steve recommends letting the glue get tacky first.  Some artists use blue painters tape or clear packing tape.  Steve says that using packing tape would be preferred for Intarsia since you can see where the grain is when deciding where to cut.  Put the clear tape on the wood and then glue the pattern to the clear tape.  Alternatively, you can use Elmer’s rubber cement, which leaves a little bit of residue, but it rubs right off.

Steve prefers to use number 5 ultra-reverse scroll saw blades but addressed the situations where he would use other blades.  When setting up the scroll saw good lighting is very important.  You need to see precisely where you are cutting, especially if you are cutting a fine line.  A round fluorescent light with magnifier works great.  Steve also explained why it is very important to have your blade at 90 degrees to the table.  Plus, the blade should be taut.  You should hear a high pitched ping after flicking the blade if it is tightened properly.

Steve talked about the cutting strategy. Look at your pattern to see if there are changes you might want to make to facilitate your cutting efforts.  Steve prefers ¾ inch wood pieces – Steve keeps lots of scrap wood.  Steve stressed the techniques of sanding and deburring.  Steve recommends numbering the pieces on the bottom – helps you keep track of what goes where.

For finishing, Steve is trending to poly-acrylic which is water borne.  The brush marks will disappear and doesn’t turn light wood yellow over time.  Poly-acrylic will raise grain a little so what Steve does, after sanding to 220, he will spray some water over the pieces, let dry overnight then redo the sanding with 220. 

To get a “preview” of what the pieces will look like when finished, Steve will spray mineral spirits over them.  Some pieces may need staining or re-sanding, or even replacing with another piece.  Steve prefers to stay with the natural color of the wood but sometimes will resort to dyes or stains to achieve the effect that he wants.

Before gluing Steve suggest doing a “dry” run and just letting it sit around for a while.  Sometimes extra sets of eyes can come up with some good artistic “tweaking” suggestions.

For the assembly process Steve uses ¼ inch hardboard for backing, the kind where both sides are tempered (smooth), is preferred, but is difficult to find.  Steve spoke on the sequence of applying the pieces and how to use glue judiciously. 

Steve collects sawdust and stores them in plastic bags.  There are times when he may need to fill gaps with a mixture of cyanoacrylate (CA) glue and matching sawdust.

As a final touch, Steve records the title, name of the pattern creator, and the number of pieces on the back of the completed project.

Steve stated that taking up intarsia is a wonderful way to learn patience and the more comfortable you make your work shop the more pleasing doing intarsia will be.  Intarsia projects make great gifts or items to donate to charity fund-raising auctions because they are unique and cannot be bought in a store.  They can easily sell for $200 - $400+ (depending on number of pieces, woods used, complexity, and overall quality), but they are very time consuming and therefore should not be considered a money-making endeavor.





Project Photos and Commentary:  Gary Rowen                         

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