Minnesota Woodworkers Guild Seminar

Each year the Minnesota Woodworkers’ Guild sponsors a woodworking seminar where they bring in a nationally known woodworking expert for a 2-1/2 day presentation.  They have been doing this for many years and some of the past presenters were David Marks, Michael Fortune, Philip Lowe, Marc Adams, Graham Blackburn, Seth Rolland, Scott Grove and many others.

This year’s seminar featured David Orth.


David Orth

David is a very accomplished furniture maker and sculptor.  Here are a few samples of his work:

David Orth Sculptural wooden table

David Orth Wood and Glass Coffee Table

David Orth Woodworking Table

David frequently uses hollow forms in his work.  You can see these in some of his furniture and in his sculptures.  The general technique that he uses works for bronze, steel, and wood.  However, this technique is foreign to most woodworkers which is precisely why he was such an excellent choice for the MN Woodworkers’ 2016 seminar!


David demonstrated how to make forms like these in both wood and in bronze

The most simple explanation I can give is that David first develops a form, then bends sheets of raw materiel into that shape and and stitches them together to produce a piece.  Obviously, there is a bit more to it than that!  Following are a few details from the seminar.

David first showed us how to develop a form through an exercise using paper, scissors and tape.  We drew curved shapes on the paper and then cut those shapes out.  We then bent the paper and joined two pieces together at the seam with some tape.

This exercise was extremely helpful for us!  Here is the result of that exercise:


Paper models developed through an “in class” exercise


You can also discover new shapes by cutting curved pieces of wood or foam on a bandsaw with the table tilted at an angle.

If you have a form that you want to make with David’s technique then you must know what the raw material will look like when it is flattened out. David showed us a head-slapping easy way to do this!  He simply took a piece of paper and temporarily fixed it to one side of the form and traced around the edges.  He then removed the paper and cut on the lines that he had just traced, and immediately he had a template for the actual project.

David had already developed a form and cut out some MDF for a full size demonstration at the seminar.

Assembling the piece is a multi-step process.  First he he stitches them together with pieces of wire, he adds some tape and then applies epoxy along the seams on both the inside and the outside of the piece.

tie-wire-wooden sculpture

David stitching flat pieces of MDF into curved shapes with tie-wire

It can be tough to reach inside to apply epoxy along the seams of a long hollow form, and David has a very clever way of dealing with this.  Actually, he learned this dowel/syringe technique through PygmyBoats.com.   Anyway, he tapes syringes on to some sticks and the threads some dowel stock through some eye bolts.  Once he fills the syringes with epoxy he can feed the sticks into the form and operate the plunger on the syringe with the dowel.  Again, dead simple but I am not sure that I would have thought of it!  


glueing wooden sculpture

David applying epoxy to the inside seams of the form

The particular form that David demonstrated was a sculpture where he could hand a mobile.

Form with mobile

Form with mobile before veneering

Next, David demonstrated his method for hammer veneering over the forms.

David orth hammer veneering

David adding walnut veneer to the form

Hammer veneering-supplies

Hammer Veneering Supplies

David also demonstrated several techniques for working with bronze such as how he forms it, how he welds it and how he distresses the surface for a more artistic effect.

The Minnesota Woodworkers’ Guild has a wealth of social and educational opportunities for woodworkers.  I should also let you know that David offers one on one instruction for both woodworking and metal working in his Chicago area studio.  Please check out David’s website to learn more about this.

Following are more samples of David’s beautiful work!


Many of these pieces were constructed with the method that David taught to members of the MN Woodworkers Guild


It is obvious that David is an amazing artist and a great craftsman!  I encourage you to go to his website to learn more about him and the work he does: Orth Sculpture.com
David Orth Woodworking Table David Orth Wood and Steel Cabinet David Orth wooden case piece