By Francesca Campione and John Feinberg
The thick aroma of pine, cedar and balsa wood floats in the air, and greets visitors at the tall wooden doorway. Inside the building, the sound of humming motors creates a distinct symphony. Fingers glide over the smooth finish of carved wood in appreciation of fine craftsmanship of rocking chairs and dressers The sight of a slab of wood transforming into a pepper shaker drew a large audience around the crafter.
The Long Island Woodworkers 20th Annual Show, curates fine furniture, decorations and tools from wood craftsmen from across Long Island. The club started in 1990 and has been showcasing the work they are most proud of — from picture frames to rocking chairs, each member has their specialty and favorite furniture or decorative piece they enjoy crafting.
“For the last 10 years, everyone comes together,” Mike Daum, the president of Long Island Woodworkers, said. Duam has been extremely satisfied with the turnout of not only this event, but from past shows as well. “And that’s the beauty of it, even on a scale like this. The hardest part is to encourage members to bring their projects in. A lot of them don’t feel like they are worthy of exhibiting in a show.”
It was mostly men, however, who stood around the large wooden barn at the Old Bethpage Village, both as spectators and exhibitors; the few women were usually accompanying their husbands arm in arm. Yet, sitting at a display of woodburning examples was Jean Piotrowski.
Piotrowski has been working with wood for seven years, and her interest has inspired her husband to join in her hobby.
“I definitely want to do that,” she said, recalling the first time she decided to pursue woodworking. “I bought a blade and started playing
with it. The members of this club are so helpful they take you under their wing and teach you and off you go.”
There are many specializations in woodworking, ranging from scrolling to intarsia to spinning. Scrolling is a technique using a vertical, reciprocating blade attached to a table. The crafter spins, pushes and pulls the wood around the thin blade, creating very accurate cuts in the final product. Intarsia is similar to 3D art on walls; layers of wood are inlayed into one another to form the sculptures.
“My interest is in surface enhancement, decorating, painting, burning, dying,” Piotrowski said.
For some woodworkers, their interest has been a lifelong passion.
“I have always had an interest in woodworking I built a shop when I was 15 in my parents basement,” Joe Pasccucci, who has worked with wood for 30 years, said. “It wasn’t until I was adult until I was able to do is serious. I like all aspects and that’s actually a problem, so I’m like a jack of all trades but a master of none”
The artisanal craftsmanship that goes into woodworking is what attracts most people.
“Each piece is unique in that no two carvings are the same, since we’re dealing with a natural product and each one is done by hand,” Colin Salmaggi, the owner and head craftsman of Long Island Woodwork & Restoration Co., said. “Long Island is my primary canvas. I would say my most popular pieces are the plank carvings, especially the Original Long Island Wood Map.”
The event went through the day with demonstrations, sales of woodworking supplies and displays of deep pride of the work in the room. Members of the Long Island Woodworkers Club celebrated another successful year of their show, which filled the parking lot at Old Bethpage.