Ray Hari

Penalty wood

Ray Hari

August 2020

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Scientists for centuries believed that Earth is the center of the universe. Then someone came along and challenged that theory and said the Sun is the center of the solar system and all the planets go around the Sun. One thing that we know about science is that scientists can never make up their mind or stick to the same story. Now scientists say that the Sun is not at the center of the solar system. The Sun goes around an imaginary center called the barycenter. This barycenter is the center of mass of the whole solar system.


But we wood turners are not scientists. We are craftsmen/craftswomen and artists. Though some of us may have had a day job as a scientist, we are woodturners. The wood turns on our lathes, but our life revolves around wood. We are constantly looking for new pieces of wood. Just like how we depend on the sun for the supply of energy, we depend on our wood meisters for our supply of wood. The life of a wood turner revolves around the wood meisters. I know this to be a fact that no woodturner at SVW will dispute. Our wood meisters are at the center of our universe.


For a lot of us newbies in wood turning at SVW, the first exposure to a wood event was at John Whittier’s house. I got an email from John one day talking about all the nice wood we can get by attending the wood event at his place. Apart from the different types of wood that I knew existed, John mentioned that there will be plenty of penalty wood. Right away I googled ‘penalty wood’. As far as I know the concept and term of penalty wood was coined by John. At the end of that first wood event I went home with some nice ash, maple, and walnut and of course a few pieces of penalty wood. John has been instrumental in making sure that our club members had a constant supply of wood for our turning needs. Every wood event at his place had lots of wood, donuts, and coffee and of course a lot of fun.


When it comes to SVW John Whittier and Dennis Lillis are like a tag team wrestling and processing wood. Wood event at Dennis’ house is a festive occasion. And he has many such events through out the year. Club members flock to those wood events like college kids going to spring break. There are donuts, coffee, cookies, brownies, and of course plenty of wood for everyone who attends these wood events. Though there are a lot of others who help in procuring and processing wood, it is mainly John and Dennis who have been our go to people for getting wood.


For that reason, I want to salute our wood meisters, John and Dennis for all the help they do for us in procuring wood.



~ Hari ~

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