Speakers

Year after year, Popular Woodworking Magazine attracts the country’s most talented woodworking instructors to speak at WIA and the best toolmakers for the marketplace – it’s the premier woodworking conference in America.

Keep reading for descriptions of the woodworking masters who have agreed to share their expertise at this year’s event. When they’re not teaching a woodworking class, you’re likely to find them browsing the Marketplace, informally interacting with attendees (feel free to join the conversation!) or participating in a Shop Talk discussion.  

Chuck Bender [Description]

Chuck, the new Senior Editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, began woodworking at the age of 12, and in his teens, he studied under a German Master who taught him the value and proper use of hand tools. After his formal training, he worked with two Chester County, Pennsylvania master furniture makers. Throughout his apprenticeship Chuck studied period furniture design and construction. For more than 30 years, he’s created masterpieces for clients throughout the country. Since starting his own period-furniture business is 1991, Chuck has been recognized as one of America’s top traditional craftsmen. His work can be seen in private collections, museums and some of the best juried craft shows in the country. Chuck opened The Acanthus Workshop in 2007, a Philadelphia area-based school that provides woodworking instruction to students of all levels. Chuck also teaches classes online through http://www.acanthus.com/category/nobswoodworking/. Chuck has written several articles for Popular Woodworking Magazine, and is the host of several DVDs, including “Carve a Ball & Claw Foot,” “Cabriole Legs Simplified” and “Dovetail Mastery.”

 
Megan Fitzpatrick [Description]

Megan Fitzpatrick (Joinery), editor and content director of Popular Woodworking Magazine, studied journalism as an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati and worked at two Cincinnati newspapers after graduating. She joined the Popular Woodworking Magazine team in 2005 as managing editor, then executive editor, and was promoted to her current position in late 2012. Megan enjoys building period furniture, and she prefers hand tools for most operations simply because they’re quieter. She holds a master’s degree in English literature, and has completed coursework and exams in her quest for a Ph.D. in early modern drama. She promises to not quote Shakespeare during WIA (unless you ask).

 
Peter Follansbee [Description]
Peter Follansbee(17th-century joinery, 17th-century carving and spoon carving) began learning traditional woodworking in 1980 when he attended a John Alexander chairmaking course at Drew Langser’s Country Workshops in Marshall, N.C. He went on to take many courses at Country Workshops and gave away his power tools in the mid-1980s.

In 1988, Peter began an informal apprenticeship with Alexander as they investigated 17th-century-style joinery, which has since become Peter’s sole woodworking focus. He’s been employed as the joiner at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass., since 1994, and his work is seen in museums including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Chipstone Foundation’s collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum. He and Alexander are co-authors of “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree: An Introduction to 17th-Century Joinery” – a must-have book for those interested in traditional woodworking techniques – whether or not you want to build a joint stool. You can read more about Peter at pfollansbee.wordpress.com.
 
Peter Galbert [Description]

Peter Galbert (Windsor chairmaking, chairmaking tools & techniques and working with curved parts) is a full-time chairmaker and instructor, whose work is internationally exhibited and collected. He teaches at his historic workshop in central Massachusetts as well as at craft schools across the country, and also creates and makes tools for chairmaking (among other things, he invented the innovative Galbert Caliper, a direct reading caliper for spindle turning).

Peter has written articles for Fine Woodworking and is currently working on a book for Lost Art Press. When he isn’t in the workshop, Peter enjoys raising goats, making maple syrup and gardening. You can see more of his work at petergalbertchairmaker.com and read his blog at chairnotes.blogspot.com.

 
Ejler Hjorth-Westh [Description]
Ejler Hjorth-Westh (20th-century design, curved work and the business of woodworking) is a boatbuilder and fine furniture maker who earned his teaching credentials in Denmark, served a boatbuilding apprenticeship in California and graduated from the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program – where he’s since taught for more than a decade.

Ejler has contributed to numerous woodworking magazines and books on woodworking, including “Studio Furniture” (Schiffer) and the Lark 500 series in “500 Chair,” “500 Tables” and “500 Cabinets,” and he’s won numerous awards for his work. He’s currently building his web site, where you can see a few examples of his work, at ejler.com.
 
Ron Hock [Description]
Ron Hock (sharpening) is the owner of Hock Tools, a 31-year-old cottage industry that makes superior blades for handplanes and other tools. Ron started the business when he (then a struggling knife maker) was approached by students in James Krenov’s College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program to make blades for the wooden planes they were building at the school. He’s now an acknowledged expert in tool-steel metallurgy, the geometry of cutting edges, hand tools and sharpening, and he is the author of “The Perfect Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers” (Popular Woodworking).
 
Glen D. Huey [Description]

Managing Editor Glen Huey (joinery, wood prep, inlay) changed his focus from home-building to building 18th- and early 19th-century furniture after completing a large built-in bar almost two decades ago – the success of that project helped nudge him into the furniture shop (it didn’t hurt that the change meant a heated shop instead of working outside in Midwest winters.) In 2005, with nearly 15 years of experience and writing a few furniture books, Glen became senior editor at Popular Woodworking Magazine, a position he held for five years before retiring to once again build custom pieces. But he missed the magazine; his new position combines a passion for woodworking with the business education he completed (too many years ago) at the University of Cincinnati.

 
Silas Kopf [Description]
Silas Kopf (marquetry design, marquetry techniques and furniture as art) has been making studio furniture since 1973, and served an apprenticeship with Wendell Castle for two years at the start of his career. In 1988, he was the recipient of a Craftsman’s Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, which he used to study traditional marquetry techniques at the École Boulle in Paris, then traveled around Europe to expand his knowledge of continental decorative arts.

Silas’ work, which is found in museums and collections around the world, incorporates a wide array of techniques and materials. He’s written numerous articles for woodworking magazines and is the author of “A Marquetry Odyssey” (Hudson Hills), and he’s filmed the DVD “The Master Techniques of Marquetry.” Take a look at his incredible designs at silaskopf.com.
 
Robert Lang [Description]

Bob Lang (SketchUp, joinery and tool use) is executive editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine and the author of "Woodworker's Guide to Google SketchUp" and five books of measured drawings of furniture and interiors of the Arts & Crafts movement of the early 20th century, including “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture,” “Shop Drawings for Craftsman Inlays and Hardware” and “Shop Drawings for Greene & Greene Furniture,” to name a few. He is also the author of “The Complete Kitchen Cabinetmaker” and “Drafting & Design for Woodworkers.”

In addition to his editorial duties, Bob designs and builds many of the magazines' projects and is responsible for many of the illustrations and measured drawings. Before joining the magazine in 2004, he spent more than 25 years designing and building custom cabinets and furniture, both in his own shops and in large commercial shops. During the last five years of this period, he served as project manager for a number of large commercial and residential projects, developing working drawings in AutoCAD, and planning and supervising the fabrication and installation of custom cabinets and millwork.

 
Robin Lee [Description]
Robin Lee (Saturday Evening Planemakers' Dinner) is the president of Lee Valley Tools Ltd., Veritas Tools Inc. (Canada), and Veritas Tools Inc. (USA). Robin has worked in all areas of the business over the past 35 years – from grinding castings during high school, working in retail store through university, and several management positions since joining the firm full-time in 1986. He holds multiple utility patents for woodworking tools, and is actively involved in tool design. He enjoys playing hockey, woodworking, and gardening, and is married with two children.

 
Thomas Lie-Nielsen [Description]
Thomas Lie-Nielsen (Saturday Evening Planemakers' Dinner) is the founder of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks in Warren, Maine, which specializes in making high-quality hand tools that are based on historical models, which the company has radically improved. Thomas started his company 30 years ago in a farm shed and made every single one of the tools. Today he employs about 80 people and his company produces a full line of tools for the hand-tool woodworker.
 
Mary May [Description]

Mary May (carving tools & techniques, leaf carving and linenfold panel carving) is a full-time professional woodcarver in Charleston, S.C. She has studied with a variety of European master carvers, focusing on the designs and techniques that have been used for centuries. Mary is a member of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers and has written several woodcarving articles for their yearly journal, as well as articles for Popular Woodworking (including one in our upcoming August issue).

She has recently been a guest on the PBS TV series “The Woodwright’s Shop” with Roy Underhill and is a woodcarving instructor at his school, The Woodwright’s School. Mary also teaches at a variety of other schools and locations around the country, including Marc Adams School of Woodworking, Kelly Mehler School of Woodworking and a variety of Woodcraft Supply Stores. She has also created several instructional DVDs on carving details for period furniture, such as the ball-and-claw foot, acanthus leaf and concave and convex Newport shell, and offers online carving classes. You can read more about Mary at marymaycarving.com.

 
Raney Nelson [Description]

Raney Nelson (Saturday Evening Planemakers’ Dinner) is the infill planemaker and owner at Daed Toolworks. The seeds for his business were planted in 2004, when he first saw and admired a Sauer & Steiner coffin smoother. While Raney didn’t feel ready to dive into metalworking right away, he made a number of traditional wooden planes until he gained enough confidence to tackle his first infill smoother; after honing his skills, in 2010 he opened Dead Toolworks and now offers three sizes of gorgeous miter planes, three sizes of coffin smoothers and a toted coffin smoother.

 
Peter Ross [Description]
Peter Ross (traditional nails, traditional tools and dealing with annealing) worked at several living history museums before working with smith Dick Everett to learn more about historic house hardware and reproductions. He opened his own smithy on Deer Isle, Maine, in 1976, and in 1979, became a journeyman blacksmith and later shop master at Colonial Williamsburg, where he worked until 2006.

Today, Peter works in his smithy in Siler City, N.C., where he makes traditional hardware and tools. Along with Jay Gaynor, Peter spent months measuring and drawing the tools from the Seaton chest for the recent publication of the second edition of “The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton” (Tools and Trades Historical Society), and he’s filmed a couple of videos for us, the first of which, “Forging a Compass,” is now available. You can read more about Peter in an article (it’s free online) from our November 2012 issue. His web site is peterrossblacksmith.com.
 
Konrad Sauer [Description]

Konrad Sauer (Saturday Evening Planemakers’ Dinner) is the man behind Sauer & Steiner Toolworks, maker of fine infill planes (including the K13 – a sleek and innovative modern design). Konrad started out as a graphic designer and art director who pursued furniture making in his spare time – but in 2001 he built his first set of infill planes with business partner Joe Steiner (who has since left the business but does the occasional show); soon thereafter they got their first commission job. Years later, Konrad has become one of the world’s premier makers; his work is recognized for incredible fit and finish and attention to detail.

 
Christopher Schwarz [Description]
Christopher Schwarz (toolboxes & workbenches, joinery planes and accurate miters) is the former editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine and is now a contributing editor who is regularly in our pages, plus he writes twice a week on his PW hand tool blog.  A long-time amateur furniture maker and hand-tool enthusiast, he began working with wood at age 8 when his family members built their first home on their farm outside Hackett, Ark., using hand tools because there was no electricity.

Since starting his own publishing company, Lost Art Press (with partners John Hoffman and Lucy May), he has published many books on traditional hand-tool skills and woodworking, and traveled around the world teaching. He’s a co-author of “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker,” and author of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” “Handplane Essentials,” “The Workbench Design Book,” “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use,” and numerous articles, DVDs and more.
 
Mike Siemsen [Description]
Mike Siemsen (woodworking for the frugal) has been a professional woodworker for more than 35 years, with experience as a carpenter, a cabinetmaker and a restorer of 18th-century furniture.  Mike uses power tools and equipment but he believes that using hand tools gets us closer to the material and allows us more freedom when making design choices. He enjoys studying the history of woodworking and using and making the tools of the past and present to make furniture. He works and teaches classes at Mike Siemsen's School of Woodworking in Chisago City, Minn. Mike also organizes and runs the Hand Tool Olympics at WIA - ­­ stop by and try your hand at some of the events.
 
Roy Underhill [Description]
Roy Underhill (timber framing, “mystery mallet” and “mighty mitered breadboard ends), a former master craftsman at Colonial Williamsburg (and the living history museum’s first master housewright), is the host of the PBS show “The Woodwright’s Shop,” the longest-running how-to show on television. Since the show’s inception, Roy has championed the use of traditional hand tools and techniques and has featured guests ranging from well-known woodworkers including Michael Dunbar, Steve Latta and Frank Klausz, Mary May, Peter Follansbee and Christopher Schwarz, to specialist artisans in blacksmithing (including Peter Ross), cooperage and more. He’s also written a number of books on traditional craft and shop practices, including “The Woodwright’s Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft” (UNC Press) and “The Woodwight’s Guide to Working with Wedge & Edge” (UNC Press).

Several years ago, Roy founded The Woodwright’s School, a small woodworking school in Pittsboro, N.C., that’s a step back in time – students must leave tape measures and cell phones at the door as they learn with the tools and techniques of the early 20th Century. Through his books, show, classes and live presentations, Roy has introduced thousands of people to traditional hand-tool woodworking. Roy is a member of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers and the Early American Industries Association. (You’ll find DVDs of Seasons 1-13 of “The Woodwright’s Shop” and many of Roy’s books on our “Roy Underhill Page” at ShopWoodworking.com.)
 
Rich Wedler [Description]
Rich Wedler has been a high-end furniture and cabinetmaker for more than four decades, and is the inventor of the Micro Fence Edge Guide System.
 
Don Williams [Description]
Don Williams (period finishing, history of furniture making) is a Maryland and Virginia-based conservator, educator, author and finisher, and has over the past 40 years worked on preserving and restoring some of the most interesting objects in our nation’s public and private collections. He has written and taught on an array of subjects related to artifact conservation, woodworking and historical wood finishing.  In his spare time he passionately pursues varied interests, including economics, metal casting and homesteading.

His current projects include the almost-finished relocation/reconstruction of a 19th-century timber frame barn as a studio/classroom/command center at his remote mountain retreat (complete with its own micro-hydropower system), replicating the chairs of Samuel Gragg, building a japanned Queen Anne highboy, fabricating a classical style marquetry chevalet and the requisite collection of historically inspired workbenches, and publishing the annotated translation of J.A. Roubo’s 1765 masterpiece “L’Art du Menuisier” (due out very soon from Lost Art Press) and an exquisitely illustrated book on the H. O. Studley tool cabinet and workbench (forthcoming from LAP).