If you go
What: Mountain State Art & Craft Fair
When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Saturday
Where: Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley
Admission: $6 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 12, free for children under 5
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's hard to resist the lure of the flying wood chips and the fun of watching a hunk of wood become a spinning top before your eyes.
And it's not just children who like to hang out for the chance to get a little toy made by the Mountaineer Woodturners, longtime exhibitors at area craft fairs.
Starting today, the wood turners will be demonstrating their skills at the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair, something they've done since they formed 25 years ago.
"It's addictive," Byron Young said of his hobby. A pulmonary technologist for Charleston Area Medical Center by day, Young said he heads to the wood shop below his home near Sissonville most every night to turn something — that's what these woodworkers call it.
"We do round things," wood turner Tom Schottle explained.
Think table legs and spindles. They start as blocks of wood. Secured to a lathe that spins, their rounded edges emerge with the application of various sharp chisel tools.
"It's about the only kind of woodworking where the cutting edge sits still," Schottle added.
The process looks deceptively easy, but watch it for a few minutes and all the things that could go wrong quickly become apparent — nicks and cuts to fingers among them.
Of course, safety is among tips of the trade shared when the wood turners gather for regular meetings. The organization has about 40 members currently; some also are members of other woodworking groups.
Besides having the proper tools, which can quickly add up in expense, wood turning requires a bit of vision and a steady hand. Honing a thin finial takes just the right amount of pressure with the tool; one wrong move and it is ruined. Apply too heavy a hand to a bowl or vase in progress and you end up with walls that are too thin or punctured.