New England Jocks Rock North Bennet Street School!

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Lenny posted 05-09-2010 03:30 PM 4681 reads 3 times favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch

On a rainy morning when it was far better to be a New England woodworker than a New England athlete (Bruins, Celtics and Sox all lost the night before), 16 Lumberjocks met in the North End of Boston at the famed North Bennet Street School (NBSS) and enjoyed a day of meeting one another, touring the facility, receiving a tutorial on Google Sketchup and being students once again as we got a crash course on chair-making from a teacher.

I work about a ten-minute walk from NBSS. One day while lamenting about having missed the LJ gathering held in Lexington, MA in September 2009, I thought, wouldn’t it be great to hold the next meeting at NBSS. Around December 10, 2009 I wrote a letter to the school inquiring as to whether they do, or would do, that type of thing, i.e., host a meeting of LJs, provide a tour, etc. It was early January and I had no response and so had pretty much given up on the idea. On January 13th, 2010, I received a reply from Claire Fruitman, the Associate Director. Claire assured me they do such things and we were welcome there. Via a few posts on LJ we arrived at the date of May 8th and voila, yesterday it happened.

Note: To those who were there, please add your perspective of the day as well as your photos.


The following jocks, in random order, were in attendance: Ryan (Ryno101), Marlon (NewPilgrim), Mark (Mr. Hudon), Sharon (Purplev), Eli (Eli), Chelle (ChelleR), Paul (PaulF), Lou (LouCarb), Ellen (Ellen35), Mike (LittleCope), Frank (Frank Doyle), Jeff (JCantin), Lorna (Moonls), Peter (PSH), Darryl (Darryl) and Lenny (Lenny).

Back Row: Eli (Eli), Jeff (JCantin), Mark (Mr. Hudon), Frank (Frank Doyle), Barry (CessnaPilotBarry), Peter (PSH), Sharon (Purplev), Ryan (Ryno101)
Front Row: Lenny (Lenny), Paul (PaulF), Mike (LittleCope), Ellen (Ellen35), Lorna (Moonls), Darryl (Darryl). Missing from photo: Chelle (ChelleR), Marlon (New Pilgrim), Lou (LouCarb).

During the introductions we learned our length of time in woodworking varied from relative newbies to those who have been at it for 20-30+ years. Shops also vary greatly from postage stamp sized space shared with a washer and dryer to dedicated shop space. Some are hooked on turning, some make boxes and others concentrate on furniture. Time spent woodworking also runs the gamut and those with young children (rightfully so) have other obligations that prevent them from the amount of woodworking they would love to be doing.

Here we are in the bench room introducing ourselves to one another. We have Peter, Mike, Paul, Barry, Eli, Lou and Lorna’s back (Sorry Lorna)


We were given a tour that lasted about one hour. Claire was our guide and she covered all areas of the school except Jewelry-making as she took us to rooms on all 4 floors. Besides the Cabinet and Furniture-making section, we saw the Violin-making and Repair, Locksmith, Piano Technology and Bookbinding areas as well. The turners in the group drooled when we visited the turning room, filled with large Powermatic lathes. Some had to be pried from the legs of lathes to get them to move on. The machine room was very impressive with its diverse tool types which include a Powermatic TS, a Delta thickness planer, a General hollow chisel mortiser (the plunge is foot operated) and (most impressive to me) a HUGE bandsaw that I think Claire said measures 36”. I don’t think everyone noticed but we even had a cameo appearance by Thomas McDonald. I happened to be standing near Claire in the large bench room on the 4th floor when Tom walked in. After greeting Tom, Claire said to him, “I don’t know if you know anyone.” I chimed in, “This is of course Tom McDonald.” and we shook hands. It turns out that when Tom attended NBSS, Claire was his instructor. I wished him luck on his upcoming woodworking show which will run on the public broadcasting network. By the way, Eli is on the broadcast crew for the show.

Claire showing us the lathe room. Visible are: the bill of Frank’s cap, Marlon, Chelle, Lorna, Paul, Ryan’s left ear, some of Barry and Ellen.

Jeff and Frank checking out the massive bandsaw. Re-saw anyone?

Google Sketchup

After lunch Sharon (Purplev) gave a wonderful live presentation (tutorial) on Sketchup basics. This was a very beneficial tutorial. Many of us had experimented with Sketchup but were unable to break through some of the barriers to a point where we could/would use the program with any regularity or success. Personally, I feel certain my next attempt will bring better results. Thank you Sharon for the time you put into this and the great job you did in presenting the topic in a “user friendly” manner.

Steve Brown on Chair-Making

We were privileged to watch and listen to a Powerpoint presentation by Steve Brown, the Cabinet and Furniture-making department head. Steve took us through how he goes about making a Chippendale style chair from start to completion. It is the same style chair students in the program complete. It was fascinating to learn the depth of thought, level of layout and tools (hand and power) employed in the process to end up with a fine piece of furniture. I always imagined a chair to be a challenging and complex project and I was left believing that even more.


I’d like to thank everyone who attended (and some who wanted to but couldn’t) for making it an enjoyable event. Your input as we developed plans for the day was very helpful. Special thanks to Ellen who served as a sounding board for me when I needed an ear or an opinion. The same to Sharon, as well as thanks again for the Sketchup presentation. To Eli for arriving early and serving as a host early on. To the RI Woodcraft Store for sponsoring our event with the contribution of 5 Lie-Nielsen card scraper sets (2). We held a drawing of all attendees and the following Jocks won: PaulF, Jeff, Mark, Ryan and Eli. Eli graciously drew another name as he already owns a set. Chelle was the lucky beneficiary of Eli’s generosity. Lastly, thank you to North Bennet Street School, Claire Fruitman and Steve Brown. We appreciate you opening your doors to us. We feel we selected a tremendous venue for our meeting and we appreciate the time, information, expertise and instruction you offered to us.

We presented Claire (and Steve Brown too) with a little gift. Here, I just presented her with the wooden “turkey napkin holder” I had made. I got the idea for this from fellow jock, Dean_Morrell. It is among his projects. We also presented an LJ T-shirt to Claire, Steve and Sharon.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

35 comments so far

View bigike's profile


4050 posts in 3255 days

#1 posted 05-09-2010 03:39 PM

that must have been a great day, i was told by a kid who works at rockler and graduated from NB that it’s a great school and he gave me the info to take classes there. It’s just kinda hard for me to go back to school right now but i will. Either NB or wyotech or UTI.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View scrappy's profile


3506 posts in 3397 days

#2 posted 05-09-2010 03:44 PM

Fantastic good time looks to be had by all! Congrats!

Thank you for the wonderful write up also. Great job with the pics and story.

Can’t wait for the next LJ meeting here in Phoenix!


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3615 days

#3 posted 05-09-2010 04:10 PM

Thank you Lenny, as I said – the bad news that the day was so busy and full, but, well, those are also the good news- it was busy and full with good stuff that was hard to pass by.

Also special thanks to Claire, Steve, and Eli for standing up for this, and giving us the full effect of the school. it truly is an inspiring institute, and I recommend anyone who is in the neighborhood to stop by and check it out.

Thanks for everyone that came, and made this the busy and full day that it was. it was nice to see them old faces again, and the new faces to attach to the avatars here. hope I didn’t bore you too much.

without further ado – a “FEW” more pictures… (sorry, a bit long… but better than nothing right?)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Lenny's profile


1593 posts in 3494 days

#4 posted 05-09-2010 04:17 PM

Thank you Sharon. You are offiically dubbed, “Sir Sharon”, Official Photographer of NE LJ Gatherings!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3544 days

#5 posted 05-09-2010 04:23 PM

Wow I’m green with envoy .I’m glad everyone had the opportunity to get together and have a tour of North Bennet school a place I always wanted to attend. You folks in the east have all the fun. LOL

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3852 days

#6 posted 05-09-2010 05:14 PM

Great post… are wonderful the photographer shows some excellent composition.
I’m glad all had a good time if you do another get together I’ll be looking for the elusive plane ticket. ;-)

And this is my 2200th LJ post.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3655 days

#7 posted 05-09-2010 05:18 PM

Looks like I missed out on a great time…...thanks for all of the photos and info : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4052 days

#8 posted 05-09-2010 05:34 PM

Me too! Thanks for the pictures and the story. I can’t imagine have a ‘meeting’ in the North Bennet Street School! What a great idea. Those shots of carved table legs hanging and violins and, and, and, are just awe inspiring. What a lucky group of Lumberjocks! Thanks for sharing your day with us.


View blackcherry's profile


3337 posts in 3790 days

#9 posted 05-09-2010 05:39 PM

I just knew from Lenny’s first post that this was going to be a wonderful event. This group has always offered some of the best comment, blogs and project on our site. To Lenny and all N.E. L J’s thanks for sharing your great gathering expedience with the rest of us…BC

View ellen35's profile


2734 posts in 3399 days

#10 posted 05-09-2010 05:57 PM

This was a spectacular day… with many thanks to Lenny for setting it up, Eli for his expertise and Sharon for the excellent presentation on Sketch-up. The NBSS and it’s people were wonderful hosts… even to recommending a great place to get pizza in the North End.
Once again, LJ’s have proven themselves to be a unique and wonderful group of woodworkers. A special thanks to all the LJs who were there in person and in spirit. I’m looking forward to the next one!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Lenny's profile


1593 posts in 3494 days

#11 posted 05-09-2010 06:08 PM

Thanks for the positive feedback everyone. There is always something left out of a write up and I just remembered an item. Thank you to Ryan (Ryno101) for bringing copious slices/pieces of red oak for anyone to take. I grabbed a few myself.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3258 days

#12 posted 05-09-2010 06:11 PM

So, Lenny, are you an organizer of some kind in your day job, or is it a natural skill? Big family, maybe? Seems like this all went off without a hiccup.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Lenny's profile


1593 posts in 3494 days

#13 posted 05-09-2010 06:15 PM

JJohnston, you’re very intuitive. I am the 6th of 8 kids!

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View MedicKen's profile


1612 posts in 3429 days

#14 posted 05-09-2010 06:15 PM

The bandsaw is awesome. Looks to me like a Tannewitz 42”. Most like either 5 or possibly 7.5hp and 3ph. They are awesome saws.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4293 days

#15 posted 05-09-2010 06:55 PM

The North Bennet Street School is certainly an inspiring place to walk around. Thanks again Lenny for pulling this together, it was nice to meet some fellow Jocks face to face!

showing 1 through 15 of 35 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics