My name is Scott Wetter and I am the "Chapter Lead" for the Gulf States Chapter. Because of the COVID virus all of our chapter functions ceased for most of 2020. But during that time I was fortunate to have met with a curator of Fort Conde & the History Museum of Mobile, who graciously offered the chapter a room in the fort in which to conduct SAPFM training. In return SAPFM members would assist the fort in their public events. This was an offer I could not refuse.
It wasn't until mid December 2020 did the first event (outdoors because of the virus) take place. Although it was a smaller event because of the virus (and uncertainty of the weather) the chapter had some representatives attend, and it was successful. So, the chapter will hopefully be starting classes at Fort Conde beginning early in 2021. We still have the room to prepare, benches to build, tools to tune, fund raisers to hold, lessons to develop, etc. This takes time and money. Some volunteers of the chapter and myself have been working on these concerns and gaining exposure for the chapter. So, although 2020 appeared to be stagnant for the chapter, (and it was), there was a lot going on behind the scenes. Please see below the chapter's plans for 2021.
Fort Conde has been gracious enough to allow us to use a room where we can have benches set up to teach hand tool skills and work on small projects. Our plans are to have a presenter's bench, and possibly 6 student benches ready by April 2021.
Since preparing the benches and tools (see "Tool Lending" below) will take time, I've decided to start with Power Point presentations on the "Historic Periods of Furniture" on several dates. This will be an overview of the periods from colonization to the mid nineteenth century. We are then hoping to follow this by a series of presentations throughout the year to focus on specific periods of interest. I am also looking into doing a presentation on the history of the cabinet maker's trade; which will discuss tools and methods of of colonial times as compared to now.
SAPFM has the potential to be (and has been) viewed as an "elitist" organization. But in fact, it is a source of training. A place were people of all skill levels can go to learn and grow. Our chapter wants to facilitate those who are just being exposed to this unique craft and want to learn more. We are now in the process of developing a "Training Series" of classes to develop students from the very beginning skills up to where they will have the knowledge and confidence to take their work in the direction of their choice.
Our chapter also understands that people new to this craft may not have the tools necessary to participate in the early classes. Scott Wetter (chapter lead) has been collecting tools for years to help facilitate this dilemma. So our plan is to have tools tuned and available so that students can sign out particular tools for the duration of the class; then sign them back in at the end of the day. That way new students can participate and see if they want to pursue this craft. If so, then it is logical that they will have collect their own tools. As anyone who plays a specific sport or does a particular craft knows, you really need to learn with your own equipment. Because with your own tools you develop a sense of familiarity which improves your abilities. Loaned tools will not be allowed to leave the class room.
Guest Presentations and Workshops
SAPFM members really have access to a huge pool of knowledge and talent in the people who give presentations and classes throughout the country. So in addition to everything else in the works, our chapter also plans to continue the tradition of having guest presenters and teachers come to our training facility and provide more advanced presentations and workshops. As these are organized they will be placed on our calendar under the "Activities" tab.
Several times each winter I pull out my Timber King portable mill and turn logs into boards. I am planning this winter to have 1 (possibly 2 of these sessions) to let people experience this process. This event will probably be limited to about 5 people so if you are interested in participating please send me an email. I will keep the emails and when the preparations are done I will contact those who have responded in order. If one of those contacted cannot make it I will move down the list.
What Can You Do?
I am looking for a few volunteers to help in the preparation phase. As described above: We have benches to build, tools to tune, a room to organize... I'm working on a fund raiser and looking for some more ideas. Like everything else we have to limit the number of people due to COVID, but if you are interested in helping out please contact me at: