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Woodworkers seek other scrollers

Craftsmen want to trade knowledge

August 26, 2012
By JOE SUTTER, , Messenger News

As craftsmen, Gene Van Grevenhof and Rick Helmers are always learning things from each other. To keep honing their skills, the two neighbors are starting a woodworking club.

"We're calling it the Webster County Scrollers Association," Van Grevenhof said. "We want to get a bunch of guys together that do different types of woodwork. There's no dues, no officers, just people that are interested in doing woodwork.

"You can learn so much from other people."

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Gene Van Grevenhof, left, and Rick Helmers often meet in Van Grevenhof’s garage workshop to discuss woodworking. Van Grevenhof specializes in scroll saw work, like the Iwo Jima clock on the left, while Helmers creates sculptures called intarsias out of multiple pieces of wood like the one on the right.

The club will meet on the first Saturday of each month, with the first meeting in Van Grevenhof's garage workshop, 436 Fourth St. N.W.

"Our dream is to have enough people where we can have our own craft show, right out there in this yard," Van Grevenhof said. "Where guys can come over and set up, no charge for tables or nothing, just guys bringing their stuff over and displaying it to the public."

The two sell their work at the Webster County Fairgrounds once a month.

Fact Box

If you go:

What: Webster County Scrollers Association

Who: Open for all ages who share interest in woodworking

Cost: No membership fees

Contact: Van Grevenhof,, 571-1315; or Helmers,, 408-2166

"He's on one side of the building, and I'm on the other side," Van Grevenhof said. "But we send people back and forth to each other."

At the fairgrounds, Van Grevenhof and Helmers hear about what others are doing in woodworking.

"People come every month to the fairgrounds and they say 'Oh, I do woodworking but I don't do this!' Oh, really? What do you do?" Helmers said. "Then it's, you know, 'I do lathe work.' We need somebody we can learn about lathe work from. You can be surprised what you can learn from other people."

Helmers said he's been selling woodwork for about nine months.

"I've done carpentry work all my life, and I haven't really used scroll saw in carpentry work, but I've used table saws," he said. "So I've taught Gene a lot of stuff on table saws too."

Van Grevenhof, in turn, specializes in scroll saws, and taught Helmers how to use that tool.

Van Grevenhof does mostly fret work - cutting designs and shapes into a block of wood. Helmers makes intarsias. He cuts individual pieces out, sands and shapes them, and puts them together to make a sculpture.

Van Grevenhof never did woodworking until a back injury left him disabled and unable to continue his job back in February 2009.

"A friend of mine brought me that little 16-inch scroll saw there, and I had to ask him what it was," he said.



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