The Charlotte Woodworkers Association, is a non-profit organization. It was formed in 1985 for the purpose of promoting excellence in woodworking through teaching, development of individual skills and fostering interest in our craft.
The John McAlister Award is awarded annually by the Charlotte Woodworkers Association to the club member who in the current year most exemplifies the purpose of the organization through display of :
Demonstrating the Spirit of the Club
The Advancement of Woodworking Skills(
The Sharing of Knowledge
Participation in Club Activities
This years Chairman of the Award Committee is Greg Smith. All submissions below will go directly to the award committee for consideration.
Past recipients of the award are not eligible to receive it again.
Past Recipients include:
2015 – Fred Miller 2016 – Bruce Bogust 2017 – Dave Powles 2018 – Mike Smith 2019 – Randy Hock 2020-2022 – Award not given due to Covid restrictions and limited meetings.
Award will be result of written (email) nomination by any current club member, submitted to the award committee to be designated by the Board. A member may also nominate him(her)self.
Nominated club member must be a current dues-paid member for the year the award is given. The nominated club member cannot be a previous McAlister Award winner.
Announcement of the coming award and nomination process will be made during regular club meetings prior to the October meeting. Nominations will be solicited from attendees of the October regular meeting and mass email sent to dues-paid members.
Nominations may be made any time before the deadline. Deadline for nominations will be November 18, 2019 (6:00pm). Nomination is simple — name the nominee, and list specific reasons for the nomination. Email nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org or give a hard copy to Greg Smith on or before the November meeting.
Award will be announced and presented at the Christmas meeting of the club.
Mary Lou Miller helped me put together these great bullet points to help you craft your nomination.
Demonstrating the SPIRIT of the CLUB
affable, inclusive, welcoming all seasoned members and newcomers alike
is readily accessible for discussion and participation at meetings, via phone, internet, etc
accepts and supports projects put forth by consensus of club members
The Advancement of WOODWORKING SKILLS
continually educating self about standards, methods, materials, and tools
shows appreciation for and knowledge of the history of woodworking
sets high expectations for developing best methods and production outcomes
The Sharing of KNOWLEDGE
contributes educational materials to club through communal loans or library gifts
demonstrates techniques, explains varied uses of materials, announces resources/classes
offers assistance to all members in choosing and implementing ideas, challenging voids
PARTICIPATION in Club Activities
present, visible, and actively engaged at club meetings and club’s public outreach projects
contributes ideas, skills, materials, and assistance to club and individual endeavors
goes beyond what is asked by club to envision what is needed and how to accomplish it
This year’s One Special Christmas raised $3,809 on behalf of the Charlotte Woodworkers Association!!!!
Live Auction – Winning Bid
Bruce Bogust – Windsor stool, $140 Bob McElfresh – Lamp, $90 Mike Pleso – Side table $40 Tom Willis – Segmented bowls & spoons, $40 Roger Callahan – Clock, $75 Bruce Bogust – Slab bench, $135 Fred Miller (Bill Maloney) – Carved bird, $250 Bob Fields – Gun box, $1200 Tom Willis – Step stool, $100 Roger Callahan – Pine top table, $275 Howell Peterson – Side tables (two) $155
Silent Auction – $1,309 Total for all CWA items – $3,809 Total auction – $12,400
Total overall including donations – $26,000
Bob’s lamp from last year also raised another $150 because the couple that purchased it split up and couldn’t decide to should own it. So they put it back in the auction. It’s a gift that keeps on giving that counts!
A special thank you to all of our members who made donations to make this possible! It’s never too early to start planning for next year.
The winner of the 2018 McAlister award is Mike Smith. When Mike joined CWA in the early 2000s, he became an active contributor to the club and activities. He has continued this level of involvement throughout his membership.
Mike served 2 terms as CWA president, where he guided the club into being operated as a business, with regular board meetings and official activities. Under Mike’s guidance and encouragement, CWA became Incorporated as a tax-exempt non-profit, and achieved 501(c)(3) status.
Mike has performed in major club activities, doing demonstrations and talking with the public. His presence at Matthews Alive and Festival In The Park makes CWA’s displays and demos come to life.
Mike makes himself available at short-notice to put on programs at regular club meetings. His demonstrations and talks are always informative and enjoyed by everyone.
Mike, with his personal efforts to liquidate shops, has helped new members obtain tools and machines members may not have been able to have or afford.
Mike has hosted many CWA members in his own home shop, teaching and coaching on their projects.
Mike is the one who answers all the inquiries about the club that come via our website and Facebook page. He does a great job promoting the club and is always a fine example of the people involved in the club. He also does a great job at the club Christmas party which involves a lot of time making the items he gives out.
With Mike’s involvement, CWA has become a better organization, and many members have become better woodworkers.
Mike is a giver, in the truest sense, and is highly deserving of the McAlister Award.
When our club treasurer, Bob McElfresh, was visiting the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta this year, he was enamored with the presentation and finishing products from The CrystaLac Company. While talking with their representative, Dave Sheppard, Dave offered to come to our club and give us the same presentation. Dave also enlisted his professional woodworking friend, Lyn R. Walker to present the product to our organization.
The CrystaLac Company was formed in 1989 in Mountain City, Tennessee. Mountain City is about as far North and East as you can go in Tennessee before you cross into Virginia or North Carolina. It’s a small town nestled in the hills along the Appalachian Mountains and an unexpected place to find a high tech company with a great finishing product.
Dave, originally from West Jefferson / Lancing, NC, loved the company so much he put a ring on the owner’s daughter and made it official. He’s now traveling the country pitching the product and the business. Dave’s father-in-law, Derek Becker, now 85 and “semi”-retired started the business by making a boat finish after having worked for a number of different finishing product companies including Dupont. He grew the family business with a focus on a high quality product and great customer service. This past year, Dave’s wife and Derek’s youngest daughter, Dorinda, purchased the company from her father and is now leading the company forward.
This is a family business through and through, but this small family owned and operated company from a small town competes well above its weight class on the world-wide stage. They have customers, big name customers, and are working with some large distributors, but maintain a low profile.
Luthiers and wood turners love their products because of the high gloss high sheen finish. Even the Smithsonian uses their products in restorations. It’s put on everything from fingernails to Dinosaurs. Martin Guitars has used the grain fillers for years. Woodcraft, StewMac, McFeely’s and Amazon sell their products, but the best place to buy it is direct from The CrystaLac Company on their website: The CrystaLac Store (https://thecrystalacstore.com).
The CrystaLac Company focuses on water based finishes. You won’t find oil in their mix. The product line is meant to be a finish that can be used together and applied, in some cases with all of the coats from sanding sealer to the final finish in one day. One can even change the order of the applications if needed to achieve the desired final finish.
Their products are self leveling and can be applied with a simple foam brush or sprayer. According to Dave, the key to a great finish is to apply several thin coats of the product with a 2 hour dry time between coats. If it’s done properly, you’ll be able to eliminate several steps in the typical finishing process and shorten the time invested.
All CrystaLac Top Coats and even the Clear Grain Filler or Wood Putty can be tinted. Any aniline, alcohol or water based dyes will work fine. Universal tints will also work. It is recommended to dilute dyes with a little bit of water before adding them to the CrystaLac products. (Source: http://www.crystalac.info/faq.html)
The best finishes are stirred, not shaken. As a water based product, we don’t want air bubbles invading the finish. CrystaLac products use only the best quality resins. They also are some of the most environmentally friendly products. They have no or low odor and less than 1 gram per liter of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in their products. By comparison, California has some of the toughest VOC regulation in the country and requires less than 100 grams per liter.
All of CrystaLac’s finishing compounds are self leveling. To demonstrate this, Dave applied his finish to a self leveling strip that’s used in the industry to measure the self leveling quality. The room was pretty dusty, but in spite of that the test demonstrated a consistent layer of the finish.
Before beginning any application it’s very important to start with a clean and dry surface with no oils. If an oil based product (or wax) is already on the wood, it must be completely dry before applying any of the water based CrystaLac products. You can apply the product over oil based products, but you may need to rough up the surface first. CrystaLac forms a bond with the wood and it needs something other than wax or oil to bond.
Sanding sealer may be applied directly to the wood. Because it is a water based product depending on the type of wood, there may be some sanding required afterwards due to the grain raising. Typically this is minor sanding, but it’s important to clean the surface of dust prior to subsequent applications.
CrystaLac also makes a wood grain filling product. Wood grain filler typically after the sanding sealer. It’s easy to use and can be applied with fingers to rub into the grain and then squeegeed off or rubbed off with a damp paper towel. Typical applications of grain filler require 2 or three coats, but given the ease of application, clean-up, and quick drying time (2 hours), and the ability to apply finishing products directly on top of the wood grain filler, the process to a final product is very fast.
Some of the CrystaLac products have an amber tint added so be sure to test your finish before using it on your final piece. The amber tint adds an aged look to some woods and looks great on floors such as Teak.
TopCoat Super Premium is where it all started for Crystalac. This is a polyurethane acrylic blend. None of their products will water spot or have issues from having a hot pizza box sitting on them. You can apply as many coats as you want. Layers do make a difference. It’s recommended to apply a minimum of three coats with 3 hours between coats using thin light coats. It’s important to keep fingers and dust out of the finish and no sanding is required between coats to achieve a superior result.
The products are food & child safe and is commonly used for bowls.
Dave recommended starting from the beginning and testing the finish it all the way through all of the products. If it doesn’t look right, then call the company. They will address any questions you have with the product.
The Extreme Protection Polyurethane is made for high traffic areas such as restaurant tables, brass kick plates, etc. It is UV protected. Application is simple as it is water thin and can be sprayed or brushed right out of the can.
All products have 5 year shelf life guarantee as long as you don’t let it freeze… even if it’s opened. All products will typically take three hard freezes, but it’s recommended to store them above freezing.
Typically the product needs one day cure time per coat.
According to Lyn, the bowl (pictured below) has only 5 coats of finish with no buffing or polishing required. This was applied while still on the lathe using a foam brush.
When using any sandpaper on the wood, DO NOT USE STEARATED sandpaper. It contains wax which will transfer onto the wood and prevent the finish from bonding properly. Use only non-stearated sandpaper!
The Crabcoat Marine Finish contains a UV stabilizer and fungicide making it ideal for outdoor applications. A four coat finish gets a minimum of 2 years of wear outside. For maintenance, pressure wash and clean every 2 to 3 years and apply a fresh coat of the finish. This product is used on boats and kayaks, etc. It is important to let this cure for 30 days prior to immersing in water (for all CrystaLac products).
Brite Tone Top Coat is primarily an Instrument finish. It’s used all over the world by luthiers. It’s nearly 100% resin, UV protected, and can set in window without discoloring the wood. Typically it’s applied with 4 or more coats.
To clean a finish, simply use a damp cloth and dry towel to repair.
The flooring finishes are Polyoxide, UV protected, and contain Aluminum Oxide. It is extremely durable and resilient.
In the process of building my shop, I decided to acquire tools that I could afford and try to get the best quality without sacrificing too much money. One of the decisions I made was to purchase a used jointer from one of our club members when it came up for sale.
It was a 1990’s era Jet JJ6-CS, but like most well made tools it was built to last. This jointer was no exception. When I purchased the jointer, I was given an extra set of sharp blades to go on it and some basic tools for setting them.
After about a year’s worth or use, I decided it was time to change the blades but realized I really didn’t want to have to fiddle with setting the blade height and fussing with turning the bolts on the cutting head, etc. It’s a pain to change them. Besides, the jointer was pretty loud and with the dust collector running too, it just seemed like a good idea to make an upgrade.
I had heard about the Byrd Shelix heads and was thinking it might be a good time to make the switch, so I went online and started the research.
My search landed right away on https://shelixheads.com/. When I saw the prices I was pretty surprised because the last time I checked it was about $600 to replace my cutter head. My replacement head was only $309. Even so I wasn’t convince I should make the purchase.
In the meantime, I decided to go old school on some panel glue-ups and used my hand planer to do the job, partly for fun, and partly because I needed the practice. I rarely make a purchase without sitting on it a few days and evaluating the value of what I’m getting vs. what I’m giving up.
While I was waiting, Stumpy Nubbs released this video on his youtube channel:
The thing that I really liked about his review is that he reviewed the cutter heads 2 years after he’d bought them and was still really happy with the results.
So, yes, I bit the bullet and did the upgrade. I contacted Shelix Heads and asked them which head I needed for my jointer and they sent me information on how to figure out which one would fit. I placed the order and had a box show up at my doorstep less than 1 week later… much faster than they advertised.
The next thing I had to tackle was how to install it. I’d never opened this jointer up to that degree yet so I figured I was in for an all day upgrade. The actual process only took me about an hour. The hardest part was getting the bearing casing off the bearings. By the way, I also decided to upgrade my bearings and I’m glad I did. The replacement head came with the bearings already set on the shaft so I didn’t have to fuss with bearing pullers, etc. In all, it was a simple install.
When I reset the jointer and started it up, I was shocked at how much cleaner the cut and how much easier the wood moved over the heads. It was also a LOT quieter.
With the upgrade, that puts me at about $800 for a 6″ long bed jointer all in and I’ve got a quiet machine, and one where I might not have to change blades again for a couple years. A brand new unit runs
Also, Shelix through in a box of 5 replacement blades. I’d considered buying extras, but didn’t want to fork out any more money. They also provided a bold driver and a socket with the tool to change cutters.
Ask me in two years if I made a good purchase.
Also, I have a 6″ jointer head with an extra set of blades for sale if you need one.
Wayne Manahan provided an update of new resources in the club library. There are newly purchased DVDs as well as some donated books. See the Librarian at our regularly scheduled meetings to check in/out resources.
This month’s presentation was delivered by Bill Maloney.
Bill has been making white cedar birds for most of his life. This craft has been passed down through many generations and is believed to have originated in Russia or one of the scandinavian countries, but Bill is not sure where his father, being Irish, learned it and passed it down to him and his brothers.
As a boy he was delegated one specific task in the process. When he and his brothers were still young, his father passed away, but they continued the craft. As his brothers reach High School age, they lost interest and taught Bill the rest of the process. When Bill reached High School, like his brothers, his interest changed and he stopped making these birds until he got out of the Service. At 85, Bill has continued to make these birds every since. He demonstrates a unique and special love for his craft and is willing and eager to share it with anyone who is interested. Bill doesn’t compromise on quality, but he does recognize there is a balance between quality, time and artistic expression.
Bill’s White Cedar Birds are all made from one single piece of wood and have no glue. They are finished only with a coat of shellac and some wood burning to accent the piece. Sometimes he will mount them on a stand, but prefers to hang them up. Because “it’s difficult to get a bird to balance”, Bill will mount the ones that won’t balance on the string.
The whole process of making the birds begins with selecting the right trees. Every few years, Bill drives to Vermont and hand selects the right trees. Though, it’s possible to make them from all kinds of wood, they are best made from straight-grained White Cedar.
If the bark is straight, the grain of the wood is straight. The first three feet of the tree is not used because it contains imperfections in the grain. However, the next 14-18 feet of the wood above the 3 foot base is used. These are cut into 38 inch lengths for the trip home. All of the bark is removed and only the sapwood is used.
Once the wood arrives, it’s put into a 55 gallon barrels filled with water where it remains until it’s used. Often his stock will remains here for a few years. Storing the wood this way stops checking and insures the highest quality piece. White cedar is very easy to carve when wet.
A regular bird takes Bill about 30 minutes to make. Hummingbirds take about 15 minutes each. Bill teaches some class on how to make a bird and generally it takes a new student about 2 hours to learn the entire process and make their first bird.
It is very hard to make a mistake. He has taught classes on how to do this in about 2 hours for an new student.
Once it’s carved, the piece is dried overnight. The next day, the piece is shaved and sanded. The carving process is done with a sharp swiss army knife with a thin blade.
Next, Bill uses a Swiss Army Knife with a thin blade to slice the wings. This knife is ideal for this part of the process and technique is key to getting clean slices. The grain of the wood help, but also the very thin blade prevents the need for a sawing movement. Bill learned that simply moving the piece a little further from his body during cutting enables him to produce pieces much faster and with better consistency.
Once the wing slices are made the bird wings are interlocked and set to dry. The next day, Bill will add the details and finish with one coat of shellac.